|Steelers Big Ben Roethlisberger knows playing the Raiders is not just an ordinary game. (US Presswire)|
Steelers at Raiders -- Week 3
Where: O.co Stadium, Oakland (grass, outdoors)
When: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Spread: Steelers by 4.5.
Forecast: Mostly cloudy, with temperatures dipping into 60s through the game; 20 percent chance of rain.
Records: Steelers (Overall: 1-1, AFC North 0-0): Raiders (Overall: 0-2, AFC West 0-1)
Past results: On the 40th anniversary season of the Immaculate Reception, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders resume one of the NFL's all-time great rivalries. The matchup is not the riveting contest it used to be, but it's still the Steelers and Raiders. Series record: Oakland retains a 10-9 lead in the series, with a 5-4 record at home. But the Steelers have won six of the past nine meetings, including a 35-3 wipeout in their last meeting on Nov. 2010 at Heinz Field. That was the game DT Richard Seymour punched Ben Roethlisberger in the face, drawing a game ejection and $25,000 NFL fine. A statistic to note: The Steelers haven't won in Oakland since 1995.
What matters: The Raiders have lost to San Diego and Miami by 30 points. They rank near the bottom of the NFL in rush defense, allowing 147 yards per game. The Steelers hope to return to their ground game. Pittsburgh ranks No. 26 in rushing in the NFL. But Oakland's secondary is so banged up the Steelers may not need their ground game to get the victory.
Who matters: Former Bengals QB Carson Palmer has struggled especially against his former USC teammate, Troy Polamalu, who appears likely to sit out a second consecutive game with a calf injury. Steelers LB James Harrison (knee) might miss his third-straight game. Can Ryan Mundy play Palmer anywhere close to Polamalu's level? Can Chris Carter collapse a pocket like that Harrison? The biggest key to this game might be two of Oakland's quietest players: Terrelle Pryor and struggling RB Darren McFadden.
Key matchups: The Raiders allow nearly 150 yards rushing, but Ben Roethlisberger has tossed four interceptions, two that were returned for touchdowns in a loss at Oakland in 2006. This Sunday, he'll operate against a secondary with two new cornerbacks. Another key to watch is how Palmer does against a Polamalu-less defense.
Injuries of note: TE Heath Miller (rib injury), Polamalu (calf), Harrison (knee), and RB Rashard Mendenhall (ACL) could all take off this Sunday and get extra rest with next week's bye. The Steelers are just 10-9 since 2007 without Polamalu. In short, the Steelers could be playing without four Pro Bowl caliber players.
Inside stuff: RB Jonathan Dwyer practiced despite a turf toe. Look for RBs Isaac Redman and rookie Chris Rainey to receive more carries and touches with Roethlisberger looking to attack the Raiders cornerbacks.
Connections: Palmer and Polamalu were roommates at USC, they also played with Raiders backup QB Matt Leinart at USC. Pryor played at Ohio State with Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward and rookie T Mike Adams. Raiders C Stefen Wisniewski is a Pittsburgh native.
Stat you should know: The Raiders allow nearly 150 yards rushing per game. Only twice before in the series have the Steelers won consecutive meetings: 1994 and 1997 and 2003-2004. The last time the Steelers won in Oakland was a 29-10 triumph in 1995.
Record watch: LaMarr Woodley (49) needs one sack to become the sixth LB in Steelers history to reach 50 in his career, and the fastest linebacker to hit that mark.
Looking ahead: After the bye week, the Steelers should be all right. Mike Tomlin is 4-1 after bye weeks.