The Steelers’ Defense: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

This week, the Las Vegas Raiders are riding high into Pittsburgh. Las Vegas continued their trend of close games and pulled one out against the New England Patriots last Sunday to advance to 6-8. That record isn’t too impressive, but if the Raiders are able to win out, they’ll have a solid chance of making the playoffs. That must start with a win against the Steelers today, and nobody understands that more than the Raiders themselves. However, they won’t get anywhere if the offense stalls again like it did last week. Their opponent in Week 16 is no slouch. Here is the good, bad and ugly regarding the Steelers’ defense.

The Steelers’ Defense: The Good

One thing the Steelers’ defense is very good at is containing running backs. The Steelers have currently allowed just 1,526 rushing yards for the year, good enough for seventh-least in the league. However, that number has been fading as of late. Pittsburgh started the year very strong against the run but have struggled a lot more recently. Two weeks ago, they were gashed by the Baltimore Ravens, giving up over 200 yards on the ground. The week before that, they gave up 146 to the Atlanta Falcons.

While the Steelers contained the run well against the Panthers, they have struggled against rushing offenses that aren’t as impressive as the Raiders are. This should bode well for Las Vegas, who currently sports the league’s leading rusher. This would seem like a favorable matchup for Las Vegas, except Pittsburgh has some star players that shouldn’t be counted out. T.J. Watt, Myles Jack, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Devin Bush are all elite-caliber players, and they could play a huge role in stopping Jacobs this week.

The Steelers’ Defense: The Bad

With Mike Tomlin at the helm, Pittsburgh has always been good at mid-game adjustments. This year, though, they’ve not started games well. In their recent loss to Baltimore, they gave up 10 out of the Ravens’ 16 total points in the first quarter, forcing themselves to have to comeback to get into the game.

Fortunately, scoring points early is something the Raiders are good at. What the Raiders are not good at, is in-game adjustments. As the game goes on, the Steelers’ defense should be expected to improve. With that in mind, the Raiders are going to have to come up with an excellent script for their first chances on offense and put as many points on the board as early as possible. The hardest part about this will be maintaining that lead as the game goes on.

The Steelers’ Defense: The Ugly

While Pittsburgh’s run defense is impressive, their pass defense is far from it. The Steelers’ defense currently ranks 24th in passing yards allowed. They’ve been impressive in the past few weeks, but have faced some favorable matchups against Marcus Mariota, Tyler Huntley and Sam Darnold.

This is a part of the game that will be absolutely crucial for the Raiders. Since the Steelers’ run defense has been great, getting Josh Jacobs going will be a tall task. With that in mind, Derek Carr is going to need to play well if the Raiders want to win and keep their playoff hopes alive. It’s going to be a cold weather game, so look for the Raiders to get the run-game going early. If that fails to work, Carr is going to have to be this team’s savior on the field.

*Top Photo: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

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