The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a bad, dark place right now. Losers of two in a row, the Steelers have gone from aspirations of the second seed in the AFC to just trying to hold on to the AFC North. While it has gotten bad, the Steelers and the rest of the fanbase are wondering “Does it get worse?” This weekend’s trip to Oakland to take on the Raiders will determine that though Oakland has been everything but a vacation for the Steelers over the years. Here are all the stats you will need to know for Sunday’s game.
4 – Much has been made this season about the balance between the Steelers’ offense. Many times, the number of passing plays doubles the amount of rushing plays. Balance is good, in all phases of life but with the injury to James Conner, that balance will be a lot harder to honor this weekend. The Steelers have failed to crack 80 yards rushing six times this season and have a 2-4 record in those games. Even the victories have not been pretty, an almost epic collapse to the Buccaneers and a late miraculous victory over the Jaguars are the only things keeping that record at 2-4 and not 0-6.
6 – A big reason why the Steelers have not had much success in Oakland in the Ben Roethlisberger era has been turnovers. Turnovers have been a recent nightmare for Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense as the team has turned the ball over eight times over the last three games. Now they await a matchup with the Raiders’ defense, a defense that has forced six turnovers over the last four games. The Raiders have been Roethlisberger’s kryptonite since his entry into the NFL as he has never won a game in Oakland, that could all change tomorrow but its going to require Roethlisberger to be extremely cautious with the football.
8 – With Conner’s injury, the Steelers will look to a mix of Stevan Ridley and Jaylen Samuels in the backfield. The general expectation is that Ridley will see a significant amount of carries and Samuels will contribute on passing downs. That all sounds great except that Ridley is being tasked with going from 0-100 with a week’s notice. Ridley has not taken a carry since November 8, when the Steelers defeated the Panthers. It has now been a month since Ridley has received a handoff and it will be interesting to see how the 29-year old running back handles a serious workload.
14 – On a depleted receiving core, Raiders’ tight end Jared Cook has been the team’s big play threat. With Martavis Bryant injured and Amari Cooper shipped off to Dallas, Cook has become Derek Carr’s favorite target. Cook has 14 receptions this season of 20 yards or longer. The Steelers have struggled covering elite tight ends this season and specifically have had matchup problems in recent weeks. Can Keith Butler design a game plan to limit Cook’s ability? He may have to should the Steelers want to end their two game skid.
45.9 – There was a five-game stretch not too long ago where the Steelers were converting 62.1% of their third down attempts. The Steelers were 5-0 in those games. Over the last three games, it has been a different story as they have managed to convert just 31.4% of their third down attempts. Luckily, Mike Tomlin’s team could get back on track tomorrow as the Raiders are the 30th ranked third down defense, allowing 45.9% of attempts to be converted. That should be blood in the water for a hungry Roethlisberger and company, as the offense looks to get back on track.