Steelers In Oakland For Week 3 NFL Betting Battle

By: Michael Robinson | Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Just ask Oakland Raiders fans who are seeing their team disappoint once again heading into a Sunday contest versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Raiders are between 4½-5 point home ‘dogs on the Don Best Pro Odds screen with a total of 44. CBS will be live from Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for the 4:25 p.m. (ET) broadcast.

The Raiders had a fresh start this year without deceased owner Al Davis. New GM Reggie McKenzie brought in coach Dennis Allen, and while he was the third head man in as many years, there was some optimism after going 8-8 the last two seasons.

Now fast forward to today. Oakland has started 0-2 straight up and against the spread after losses versus San Diego (22-14) and at Miami (35-13).  The San Diego game had some bad luck after Oakland’s long snapper got injured and the backup made three miscues. The Miami game fell apart quickly after Oakland led (10-7) at halftime.

Quarterback Carson Palmer is third in the league in passing yards (670), but just 22nd in yards per attempt. He’s been hurt by the fact that receiver Denarius Moore (hamstring) missed the first game and Jacoby Ford (foot) is out for the year. Starting right tackle Khalif Barnes (groin) was also just lost indefinitely.

The running game has also been horrible (34 YPG, ranked 31st) with Darren McFadden limited to 54 total yards on 26 carries. McFadden had a great chance to put up big rushing numbers with Michael Bush signing with Chicago, but doesn’t look comfortable in the new zone-blocking scheme.

Pittsburgh (1-1 SU and ATS) rebounded from a 31-19 loss at Denver with a 27-10 home win over the Jets. They were able to hold quarterback Mark Sanchez to just 139 passing yards last week (5.1 per attempt) despite playing without star linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu.

Harrison (knee) is likely out until after the Week 4 bye, while Polamalu (calf) is listed as questionable. Pittsburgh should be able to shut down McFadden’s rushing and dial up the defensive pressure on Palmer, who is known to throw it up for grabs when under duress.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, on the other hand, is feeling a lot more comfortable heading in. He threw for 275 yards and two TDs last week, with receiver Mike Wallace (74 yards) looking more comfortable in the new Todd Haley offense after his preseason holdout.

Roethlisberger should be throwing early and often with the Raiders losing both starting cornerbacks in Shawntae Spencer (foot) and Ron Bartell (shoulder) the first two weeks. Pat Lee and Joselio Hanson are the presumed starters, and there’s very little depth behind them.

The Pitt running game does miss Rashard Mendenhall (knee) with the replacement combo of Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer a drop-off. However, they are at least running enough (tied-for-15th in attempts) to keep defenses honest, even if at only 2.6 yards per carry.

Some betting trends to consider Sunday: Pittsburgh is 0-5 ATS in its last five road games (2-3 SU) and the Raiders are 1-4-1 ATS (1-5 SU) in their last six at home.

This is the first meeting between the teams in Oakland since 2006 (20-13 Raiders win). The underdog is 7-2 in the last nine matchups.

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