Two of the NFL’s greatest franchises square battle before the holidays begin. On Christmas Eve, the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders are currently on a two-game winning streak over the Steelers, and they now own a 17-13 advantage overall. Both teams need to win this game in order to keep their chances of making the playoffs alive. Here are three reasons for why the Steelers will prevail in the 31st matchup between these two storied franchises.
Raiders vs. Steelers: Extra motivation for the home team
Franco Harris, an all-time great and Hall of Fame running back, passed away this week. Leaving a hole in Steelers and NFL history. This weekend will also see the retirement of Harris’ jersey number. Giving the Steelers extra motivation to perform for Harris and his family. During their contest with the Raiders, the Steelers will also commemorate the “Immaculate Reception” 50th anniversary. Due to the fact that the “Immaculate Reception” was against the Raiders, this anniversary is very emotional for both sides. However, you typically triumph in the mental fight of things when you are honoring a historic game and person. If the Raiders players aren’t ready to play, the fired-up Steelers will dominate.
Raiders vs. Steelers: Cold weather is not Derek Carr’s friendÂ
The combination of Derek Carr with cold weather is a complete no-no. AccordingÂ to HeathÂ Cummings from CBS Sports, Carr has a 1-7 record in contests played in temperatures below 40. Cummings also states that the colder the weather the worse Carr plays. As in games where the temperature is below freezing Carr’s record is 0-4. Carr will regrettably have to endure Pittsburgh’s below-freezing temperatures this weekend. If Carr performs as usual in these temperatures, the Raiders offense is going to be painful to watch. Knowing that Carr will have to enter their below freezing stadium to try to maintain the Raiders’ playoff hopes, the Steelers’ defense must be salivating.
Raiders vs. Steelers: A mismatch in the trenchesÂ
The Steelers have one of the best pass-rush trios in the league with T.J. Watt, Cameron Hayward, and Alex Highsmith. These three have 21.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles combined this season. This will be a significant mismatch in favor of the Steelers given how injured the Raiders’ offensive line is. The Raiders will have to be smart and choose who they want to double team. They will likely have to leave Kolton Miller on an island and send help elsewhere. The Raiders offense will have a hard time moving the ball if Watt, Hayward, and Highsmith can consistently get to Carr. A similar incident occurred last week against the New England Patriots, where their pass rush distributes the flow of the Raiders’ offense. This will be something to keep a close eye on.
*Top Photo: AP Photo/Rusty Jones