Week 2 of the NFL sees the Pittsburgh Steelers host their first home game of the regular season, as they welcome the Las Vegas Raiders to Heinz Field. And it’s a game that will make a little bit of history, as it’s the first time these two sides have faced each other, ever since the Raiders moved from Oakland to Las Vegas.
The last meeting saw the Raiders come out on top 24-21, in what was an extremely close game that could’ve gone either way. But the Steelers will be hoping to turn things around from their recent form against the Raiders, in which they have lost three of their last four meetings. However, confidence could be at a low for the Steelers heading into this tie, with a tough game against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills in Week 1.
The Bills are hotly tipped in NFL expert picks as one of the favorites to make it all the way through the playoffs in the postseason, and so it’ll be a tough time for Pittsburgh. But they’ll want to at least put in a good solid performance even if they do lose, as starting the season with a devastating loss would demolish confidence levels for Week 2 in a game that the Steelers could and probably should win.
But the Raiders don’t have an easy matchup either in their first week, as they get paired up against the Baltimore Ravens. If both teams lose though, this Week 2 game could be the perfect opportunity for one of the two to bounce back, get their season back on track and build that confidence they’ll need going forward in their attempts to make the playoffs.
To weigh up the options, let’s take a look at the talent that both teams possess…
The Raiders – Star Players
There are two sides to any team. The offense, and the defense. When it comes to the Raiders, they’ve an impressive offensive lineup, starting with QB Derek Carr who pulls the strings. Last year, which included a disrupted campaign due to COVID-19, he still managed a career-high 4,103 passing yards, in addition to tossing 27 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
You then have star tight end Darren Waller too, who paced Las Vegas last season with 107 receptions for 1,196 yards. Managing to get nine touchdowns in the process, which led to him getting selected for his first-ever Pro Bowl.
In the defensive department the Raiders are looking extremely strong, with safety Johnathan Abram who led the team with 86 combined tackles last season. And backing him up they have edge rusher Maxx Crosby who managed to pace the club with seven sacks and 14 tackles-for-loss.
This shows they have a well balanced side with some key players who can not only rack them up points, but also prevent the opposition scoring any. But let’s see who the Steelers have to combat that.
The Steelers – Star Players
Of the 53-man roster that the Steelers have submitted, they’ve a few players who are key to their campaign this year. Two players who were voted into the top 100 players in the NFL by fellow players as part of the NFL Network were Minkah Fitzpatrick (No. 52) and Cameron Heyward (No. 57).
Fitzpatrick, like the Raider’s Waller, was also a Pro Bowl selection, after he led the Steelers last season with 74 tackles, 11 pass defenses and four interceptions. Heyward wasn’t fortunate enough to get picked for the Pro Bowl, but he did receive All-Pro honors for the third time in his career, following a season where he racked up 54 tackles, including 18 quarterback hits.
Whilst he hasn’t made the top 100 list yet, there is only one guy for us in the offensive line that we need to mention, Ben Roethlisberger. At the age of 39, he’s getting on, but as Tom Brady proved last year, age is but a number. He already has 2 Super Bowl rings to his name, and time is coming to an end for his career, so this could potentially be last chance saloon. But he still packs the quality needed to make it.
How we expect the match to go
Whilst the Raiders boast some quality players, they have more changes to their line-up than the Steelers do, especially in their offensive line. So we expect the squad to be less settled, and maybe less chemistry and cohesion between newer recruits.
Add to that the strong core that the Steelers have, the iconic Roethlisberger at QB, and the impressive defensive line of the Steelers, it may be tough for the Raiders to break through and break them down. At the end of the day we can’t see anything but a Steelers win here, but depending how well the Raiders defense holds up, it could be a closer contest than we expect.