Oakland Raiders (4-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4)
This line, Pittsburgh by 5 at home, suggests that the Steelers are measurably better than the Raiders. The Raiders rank 12th in rate of moving the chains, while the Steelers rank 18th, but that’s largely because the Steelers were without Ben Roethlisberger for 4 ½ games. In the 3 games that Roethlisberger has started and finished, the Steelers have moved the chains at a 77.08% rate, as opposed to 65.19% in their other 5 games, so obviously having him back from injury is huge. However, he didn’t look 100% in his first game back last week, so it’s hard to trust that he’s going to be 100% this week.
The Steelers are also really banged up on offense around him, missing left tackle Kelvin Beachum and running back Le’Veon Bell for the year and center Maurkice Pouncey indefinitely. All 3 of those players were huge parts of their dominant offense last season, an offense that sustained next to no injuries, which obviously hasn’t been the case this season. Their young defense has been better this year, ranking 13th in rate of moving the chains allowed, after ranking 25th last season, but it’s hard to trust that their offense is going to play well this week.
The Raiders, meanwhile, have had next to no injuries this season, though they did lose talented defensive lineman Justin Tuck for the season a few weeks back. Their defense hasn’t been measurably worse in the 2 games since, but they definitely do miss him, at least somewhat. They’re also in a bad spot, following a home upset win over the Jets last week, as teams are 59-103 ATS off of a win as home underdogs since 2010. For that reason, I’m taking the Steelers, but I’m not confident at all.
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Oakland Raiders 20
Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh -5