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Pregame: Time to Make a Statement…

4:25pm ET @ Oakland Coliseum; Oakland, California.

Projected Score: Steelers: 35  / Raiders: 13

Game Lines: Steelers: (-10.5) O/U: 51.5

TV Broadcast:

Begins on FOX at 4:25, broadcast locally on WPGH-TV, with Thom Brennaman and Chris Spielman as commentators and Shannon Spake the sideline reporter. Check the national broadcast map to see if the game is on in your area.

Radio Broadcast:

Steelers Radio Network- Game coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET. Calling the game will be Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play), Tunch Ilkin (color analyst) and Craig Wolfley (sideline).

All fans in the Pittsburgh area can listen locally on WDVE 102.5 FM & WBGG 970 AM.

Injury Report:

RB James Conner (Ankle) – Out
S Morgan Burnett (Back) – Questionable
LB Anthony Chickillo (Ankle) – Questionable
OT Marcus Gilbert (Knee) – Out

What to Watch:

1.Jaylen Samuels

The first year RB will receive his first career start in place of James Conner who is out with a sprained ankle. Samuels was an offensive weapon in college, while playing many different positions. Look for Samuels to thrive in the passing game while yielding some carries to Stevan Ridley.

Background information via NFL.com: “Samuels was a first-team all-conference selection as a senior, ending up the Wolfpack’s leading receiver (76 receptions, 597 yards, four TDs) while being a major threat in the red zone (76 receptions, 404 yards, 12 TDs). He was named third-team All-ACC pick in 2016, leading his team with 55 catches (for 565 yards, seven scores) and finishing third on the squad in rushing (33 rush, 189 yards, six TDs). He was named the Offensive MVP in the Independence Bowl win over Vanderbilt (six receptions, 104 yards, three TDs). Samuels started 10 of 13 games played for the second straight year in 2016, one year after winning All-American, first-team All-ACC, and Pack Offensive MVP honors by leading all tight ends nationally in receptions (65 receptions, 597 yards, seven TDs) and running for 368 yards and nine touchdowns on 56 attempts. In limited touches as a freshman, Samuels showed glimpses of his talent (15 rush, 143 yards, TD; six receptions, 96 yards, one TD). This versatility was not a surprise, as Samuels was the top prospect in North Carolina in high school after putting up 2,300 yards of total offense and 55 touchdowns as a senior.”

2. Steelers Ability to Force Turnovers

This season the Steelers have struggled mightily to force turnovers this season with only 12 total takeaways and a (-8) differential which is good for 26th in the league. If the Steelers are unable to force turnovers this week against a very poor Raiders offense the future may be bleak in Week 15 against Brady and the Patriots and Week 16 against Brees and the Saints.

3. Defensive Adjustments

Last week we saw our defense routinely cover Pro Bowl WR Keenan Allen with LBs LJ Fort, Bud Dupree, Jon Bostic, and TJ Watt. After being burned many times on those coverages the defensive scheme remained unchanged. While the Raiders lack a playmaker of that pedigree, it will still be interesting to see if DC Keith Butler makes any changes throughout the game. He will undoubtably need to make changes in the next two weeks against high flying offenses.

Betting Advice

Via SportsInteraction.com

The Steelers head to Oakland as double-digit favourites. While it should be a win for them, it could be an interesting game when it comes to that spread. Pittsburgh is currently 1-6 against the spread (ATS) through their last seven December games, while the Raiders are 4-9-2 ATS against a team with a winning record. In other words, that 11-point cushion is no guarantee.

Meanwhile, the over under is set at 51.5. Pittsburgh is 13-4 with the over in their last 17 games on grass. Oakland is 5-2 through the last seven with the over against teams from the AFC.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steely McBeams may have a tough time battling Oakland’s secondary. While they haven’t had much to be proud of in the Bay Area, their pass defence has been middle of the pack. As for their run defence, well, that’s a different story.

Oakland is currently tied for most yards allowed on the ground and has surrendered the second most points allowed per game. With backup back up back (and tight end according to Yahoo Sports!) Jaylen Samuels getting the nod for Pittsburgh, watch for Big Ben to get the ground game going early and often.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders have had a year to forget and should at this point be playing for the pick. However, seeing how there’s still a game to play on Sunday, Oakland will give you a little bit of hope with the over.

Yes, they’re facing a double-digit point spread, yet again, but Oakland is 34-15-2 following an ATS win. We’re referring to their 40-33 loss to KC last week, which wasn’t a money win, but it definitely was an ATS triumph. If Oakland can dig deep and keep up with Pittsburgh through the first half, they have a shot at covering.

Once Roethlisberger gets his team up by a few scores though, this one is over. Oakland has been known to disappear once the scoreboard gets a little too slanted.

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