Fresh off pretty big season-opening wins the Pittsburgh Steelers and Las Vegas Raiders will do battle during Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season.
Pittsburgh relied on special teams and its defense to take out the favored Buffalo Bills in Western New York last week. Meanwhile, the Raiders stunned Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens at home on Monday Night Football. Below, we preview this Steelers vs Raiders matchup.
Steelers vs Raiders: What you need to know
- Pittsburgh hosts the Raiders at Heinz Field on Sunday, September 19 at 1:00 PM EST on CBS
- Sportsnaut says the Pittsburgh Steelers will beat the Las Vegas Raiders, 24-19.
- Odds: The Steelers are 5.5-point favorites with the over/under set at 46.5
Ben Roethlisberger vs Derek Carr
At 39 years old, Big Ben is in a different stage in his career. He’s no longer going to be the primary reason Pittsburgh contends for the AFC North title. That was ever so apparent during Week 1’s win over the Bills with Ben Roethlisberger throwing for just 188 yards.
As for Derek Carr, he shook off some early-game struggles to absolutely torch a good Ravens defense en route to helping Las Vegas pull off the home upset.
- Big Ben as a complementary piece: For pretty much the past 17 years, this future Hall of Fame quarterback has been the face of the Steelers’ attack. While that might be the case against a questionable Raiders defense come Sunday, we’re mostly intrigued to see if he’s able to do more. Primarily, throwing down the field. That’s been an issue for Roethlisberger now that he’s in the twilight of his career.
- Carr’s shiny moment: Last week’s walk-off win over Baltimore might have been the defining moment of Carr’s career. The three-time Pro Bowler ended the evening having completed 61% of his passes for 435 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He’ll face another difficult task against one of the best secondaries in football.
Advantage: Pittsburgh Steelers
Dan Moore vs Maxx Crosby
A rookie fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M, Moore got the start at right tackle over veteran Joe Haeg in Week 1. According to Pro Football Focus, he put up the best overall grade among Steelers offensive linemen. Not too shabby for his regular-season NFL debut.
As for Crosby, he’s been the Raiders’ most-consistent defender since they made him a mid-round pick back in 2019. That did not change against the mobile Lamar Jackson last week with the small-school product recording five quarterback hits and two sacks.
- Steelers offensive line is an issue: The immobile Big Ben was hit six times and sacked twice by a Bills defense that lacks a ton of pass-rush ability in Week 1. That can’t be a good sign for this revamped offensive line. And in reality, relying on Dan Moore at right tackle just might not be sustainable moving forward.
- The Crosby impact: With former No. 4 pick Clelin Ferrell a healthy inactive for Week 1, Crosby came to play big time. It was against a vastly superior Ravens offensive line compared to what Pittsburgh will throw out there Sunday. With 19 career sacks in 33 games, Crosby has hit that elite level.
Advantage: Las Vegas Raiders
Darren Waller vs Minkah Fitzpatrick
One of the most-productive tight ends in the game, Waller was targeted an absurd 19 times by Derek Carr in Week 1. While he did catch 10 passes for 105 yards, that type of predictability could be an issue moving forward.
In fact, Fitzpatrick and his ball-hawking skills might be able to take advantage of this come Sunday evening in Pittsburgh.
- Mixing it up in Vegas: Carr attempted 56 passes in Week 1. A total of 19 of them went to Waller with the quarterback’s completion percentage at 55 when targeting the tight end. He was 24-of-37 when targeting other players. While fantasy owners want Waller to put up big numbers, Carr needs to distribute the ball better.
- The Minkah impact: In 31 career games with the Steelers after being acquired in a blockbuster trade from Miami, Fitzpatrick has recorded nine interceptions and two forced fumbles. He’s allowed a sub 70 passer rating when targeted. If Fitzpatrick continues at this level Sunday, there’s a chance he’ll force a mistake or two from Derek Carr.
Advantage: Pittsburgh Steelers
Bottom line: This Steelers vs Raiders matchup is darn intriguing in that it pits two vastly different teams against one another. Pittsburgh relies on its defense to do the dirty work while the Raiders hope their high-octane offense can do the trick. Look for the home team to come away with a narrow victory.