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Steelers Vs. Raiders: 5 Keys To Victory In Week 16

The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their fifteenth game of the 2022 regular season and it will be at home and on Saturday night against the Las Vegas Raiders. They’ll enter that contest listed as a slight favorites as well. Below are five key things that I believe the Steelers will need to do at home Saturday night to come away with their seventh win of the 2022 season to do their part in hopefully keeping their playoff dreams alive at least one more week.

No Joshing Around – Even if weather weren’t expected to be a factor Saturday night in Pittsburgh, you could have probably counted on the Raiders to attempt run early and often against the Steelers. Now, however, with heavy winds and frigid cold expected Saturday night at Acrisure Stadium, you can really count on the Raiders using star running back Josh Jacobs like an ice chisel. Jacobs, the NFL’s leading rusher entering Week 16, has six 100-yard rushing games on the season. One of those games included him busting the 200-yard barrier. If that’s not enough, Jacobs also has 46 catches for 363 yards on the season. He needs just 142 total yards from scrimmage for 2,000 on the season and if he hits that mark Saturday night, the Steelers probably wind up losing the game. The Raiders are 6-2 this season in games that Jacobs has rushed for 93 or more yards in. The two loses were each by one point, 17-16 and 30-29. They are 0-6 in games that Jacobs has failed to rush for 93 or more yards. So, if the Steelers can keep Jacobs under 93 yards on the ground Saturday night, that will go a long way in helping them win the game.

No Birthday Celebrations For Davante – Saturday, Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams will turn 30 and he’d love to have a few birthday celebrations at night on the frozen tundra of Acrisure Stadium. Explosive plays Saturday night probably won’t come easy due to the expected wind and cold but if there’s anyone on the Raiders’ offense that can still produce them, it’s probably Adams as most of his career was spent playing in the wind and cold on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Adams enters Saturday night with 20 explosive play receptions for the season and only three other players have registered more. Five of those 20 have been for 40 or more yards. Of the 23 passing touchdowns that the Raiders’ offense has produced so far this season, Adams has over half of them with 12. That’s how important he’s been to the Raiders’ offense. He’s going to have a few catches Saturday night but none of those better result in huge celebrations if the Steelers hope to win the game.

Max Help With Maxx To Avoid His Max – While the Steelers have a game-wrecker in outside linebacker T.J. Watt, the Raiders have one of their own in defensive end Maxx Crosby, who is second on the team in total tackles with 77. 19 of those tackles have resulted in lost yardage. Oh, Crosby also 11.5 sacks on the season as well and 29 total quarterback hits, good for second-most in the NFL entering Week 16. Crosby is primarily a left side player so that means Steelers right tackle Chukwuma Okorafor will have his work cut out for him on Saturday night. He’s allowed just four sacks on the season and that number will be tested Saturday night by Crosby. Okorafor will need some help in spots Saturday night and hopefully in the form of an effectively chipping tight end or running back. Crosby has three forced fumbles on the season and the Steelers certainly can’t allow that number to grow on Saturday night.

Najee Night – Steelers running back Najee Harris has been able to string together a few nice showings on the ground since the team’s bye week. Even so, Najee Harris has yet to register a 100-yard rushing game this season. His last such game was nearly a year ago in the Steelers’ 2021 regular season home finale against the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers must run the football well Saturday night to win the game and the Raiders’ run defense is just porous enough up the middle for them to do that. This past Sunday, the Raiders gave up 172 yards on the ground to New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson on just 19 total carries. By the way, 10 of those 19 runs by Stevenson were scored as going up the middle. Stevenson is a big physical running back just like Najee Harris is. The Steelers 2021 first-round draft pick needs a big night on the ground Saturday night. He needs to outshine Jacobs, who is also an Alabama product and right now, the better of the two running backs.

Need Special Things On A Special Night – Saturday night will be special night at Acrisure Stadium and for several reasons as not only are the Steelers celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception but also honoring and memorializing Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris after his recent and sudden passing just a few days ago. To make the Saturday night game even more special, it would be great to see the Steelers’ special teams units finally make a big play that leads directly to a touchdown. I’m talking about something real significant such as a blocked punt, a forced fumble or even a kickoff or punt return for a score. Anything big such as that. The Steelers have quite a few core special teamers that are making more than minimum salaries and it’s time for a few of them to earn that pay. The expected frigid weather Saturday night at Acrisure Stadium might help that cause. How about someone like inside linebacker Marcus Allen providing such a big special teams play on the heels of his bonehead penalty last Sunday? Somebody make a big play. Anybody.

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