From 1984 and on, the Oakland Raiders (or for that first decade, the Los Angeles Raiders) were not a team that would give the Pittsburgh Steelers many issues. While the Raiders own a 15-13 overall record against the Steelers, Pittsburgh has won eight of the last 14 games.
Since 2000, when the Raiders have come to Pittsburgh, the Steelers are 5-2 in seven meetings. But it’s been another story when Pittsburgh has had to travel out west. They have dropped three straight in Oakland dating back to 2006, the most recent coming in 2012 and 2013.
While the Steelers themselves were experiencing down years in each of those seasons (2006 was Super Bowl Hangover year; they posted 8-8 records in all three seasons), the Raiders were terrible. They were 2-14 in 2006, and posted 4-12 records in 2012 and 2013. So it’s hard to justify Pittsburgh’s problems on the west coast.
Mike Tomlin has played five games in the Pacific time zone as head coach of the Steelers, and they have gone 1-4 in those games, the only win being the Le’Veon Bell walk-off touchdown out of the Wildcat in a game that Mike Vick started in 2015. But it wasn’t just Tomlin. From 1969 to 2006, the Steelers went 16-23 in that time zone. That includes a 4-5 record against the Raiders.
What does all of this mean? Well, the general idea is that nobody should be taking Sunday’s game against the Raiders lightly. Oakland may well be the worst team in the NFL this season, but homefield advantage is still a thing, especially when that home is three time zones away.
And of course this is a Steelers team that has just dropped two games in a row. Things could quickly begin to spiral out of control if they don’t get off to a fast start in Oakland, even though they have been the best road team in the league in recent years. Yet it’s worth noting that their first loss on the road since Week Three of the 2017 season did come in Mountain time in Denver. This team doesn’t like to travel.
I can’t think of anything that makes it more obvious than the fact that they have lost each of their last three games in Oakland against teams that, combined, had a record of 10-38. This is ostensibly a better Steelers team than the three that they fielded in those previous games, but that doesn’t mean the result is going to be different.
Most worrying is that the next two games on the schedule after that are the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints. This could be the hump game of a five-game losing skid, the worst streak since an improbable fall in 2009 after a 7-2 start to the season. And the Steelers were just 7-2-1 two weeks ago…