Raiders vs. Steelers: Run Defense Needs To Bounce Back In Week 16

The run defense for the Las Vegas Raiders had one of its worst outings of the season during their Week 15 encounter against the New England Patriots. They allowed the Patriots to amass 206 yards on the ground while averaging 6.4 yards per carry and a touchdown. They will need to tighten up because, according to CBS News, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Christmas Eve game against them is predicted to be one of the coldest games ever played there. Additionally, the running games in this game will be more active as the temperature drops.

Can the Raiders stop the Steelers’ run game?

The media questioned coach Josh McDaniels regarding the Patriots’ rushing attack and what transpired during their encounter. McDaniels said you need to give them credit, but his team also missed some tackles. “Again, they did a good job of creating some space in there for [Rhamondre] Stevenson, and I thought he ran well,” McDaniels said. “I don’t think we tackled particularly well necessarily on some of those.”

But to the Raiders’ credit, they did limit the Patriots’ passing offense. McDaniels said they will have to fix some things to get their run defense back to where it was. “But we’ve got to be able to play it better than what we did,” McDaniels said. “There’s no doubt about that; there was too much, too many big chunk runs for us to be able to survive playing like that.”

Fortunately, the Steelers’ run game isn’t very strong, which helps the Raiders’ run defense. The Steelers rank 11th in rush attempts but are 18th in rush yards, according to Lineups. Najee Harris, who is their workhorse, is having a down year. Harris ranks 16th overall in rushing yards but only averages 3.7 per carry. The Steelers’ run game has been ineffective as a result of Harris’ subpar year and poor offensive line play.

This game could be what the Steelers need… 

Despite the slow start, this is the perfect game for the Steelers’ running game to come alive. The Raiders’ defense must avoid failing to stop the run game once more. Here is what Patrick Graham, the defensive coordinator, had to say when asked about Harris’ versatility. “They could put them out at number one in empty, they could put him all over the place, and you just got to figure it out,” Graham said.

The Raiders’ defense faces a difficult challenge because when Harris gets going, he’s a tough tackle. Let’s not forget that Harris has broken 47 tackles in his career. Given the tackling problems for the Raiders’ defense, it could be a long day. Add in the cold weather, and things can get tricky. “But because of his skillset, mainly because he’s a tough tackle, it’s a tough matchup for anybody,” Graham said. Harris is sure to see his fair share of carries in a cold-weather game. Expect Harris to run hard for the late-great Franco Harris. Maxx Crosby and Co. must maintain control of the line of scrimmage to prevent Harris from running wild.

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*Top Photo: Associated Press Pool

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