Head coach Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders have made it to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers in Week 2. The two teams have long been rivals, even before the “Immaculate Reception” game in 1972. Both teams are looking to improve to 2-0 this week during a tough matchup. These are the critical position groups to keep an eye on in the early window.
Raiders Offensive Line
During the offseason, Las Vegas reworked its offensive line. After trading Trent Brown, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson, the Raiders did their best to replace what was previously an elite unit.
On the first drive of Week 1, injury struck the Raiders with yet another offensive line loss. RG Denzelle Good tore his ACL and is out for the season. Jermaine Eluemunor took over for Good and played the remainder of the game.
“I would say Eleuemunor was a factor,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said during a press conference this week. “When you have someone come in like that, and you don’t notice him, that’s a good thing when you don’t notice a player that goes in.”
Eluemunor will likely start at RG in Week 2. Will he repeat his success?
RT Alex Leatherwood has faced both criticism and praise following the Raiders Week 1 win against the Ravens. He will match up against All-Pro edge rusher T.J. Watt.
The Steelers star against rookie RT Leatherwood is arguably the most anticipated matchup of the week in Pittsburgh. Watt came in ranked number 9 on this year’s NFL Top 100.
Watt’s new Steelers teammate RB Najee Harris is a former teammate of Alex Leatherwood. The two played for Alabama together, won the 2020 National Championship, and are both rookies this season. This week, in a press conference, Harris was asked if he had any advice for TJ Watt before he lines up against Leatherwood. Harris’ only words of advice?
“Good luck, I guess.”
Steelers Passing Game
It’s no secret that the Raiders needed some upgrades in the secondary this offseason. With the additions of Casey Hayward, Nate Hobbs, and others, is it enough to stop the Steelers passing attack?
Pittsburgh is home to Pro Bowl WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, standout second-year WR Chase Claypool, and the dynamic WR Diontae Johnson. The Steelers receiving unit also includes TEs Eric Ebron and Pat Freiermuth. On top of some extraordinary offensive weapons, they’re led be future Hall of Fame QB Ben Roethlisberger.
Pittsburgh’s Week 1 matchup was less of a thriller than the Raiders primetime game. The Steelers contest finally shifted into high gear when Big Ben and his receivers started to connect. It seemed to be the extra push Mike Tomlin’s Steelers need to succeed. The team powered through for a 23-16 win over Buffalo.
Regardless of the victory, Roethlisberger ranked last on PFF’s quarterback rankings Week 1.
On the other side of the ball, new Raiders CB Casey Hayward looked back to his Pro Bowl ways. With a PFF grade of 84.1, Hayward was ranked second in coverage in Week 1. Hayward will have no problem taking on the Steelers receivers and Big Ben this Sunday, if the Ravens game was any indication.
The Raiders shined bright on Monday Night Football, but Sunday morning marks the beginning of another tough challenge. Pittsburgh brings Pro Bowlers from all angles of the roster, and they’re no stranger to the Raiders. The generational feud continues this week. Who will come out on top?
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