With both teams sitting at 1-1 and looking for some direction, the Pittsburgh Steelers will visit the Las Vegas Raiders this Sunday (9/24/23) for an AFC cross-divisional clash. Get Steelers vs. Raiders odds, picks, and predictions below as our best bet is under 43.5 points.
Steelers vs Raiders Prediction & Best Bet
The Pittsburgh Steelers are alive in a jumbled AFC North after a 1-1 start, but they’ve been whatever’s the opposite of doing it in style. They were absolutely gouged at home on opening day by a 49ers team, who look like they should be among the NFL’s best, but played a much tighter game with a very questionable Rams squad in week two. San Francisco did whatever they wanted on offense as Brock Purdy looked like peak Seattle Russell Wilson running the offense and Christian McCaffrey ran wild, and the Steelers offense was also completely snuffed out as Kenny Pickett threw two interceptions to go along with the team’s one touchdown.
Week two yielded the first win of the year for Pittsburgh as they took down the rival Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football. That being said, they only did so by scoring two defensive touchdowns in a tight win, in which the Browns lost star running back Nick Chubb early on and Matt Canada’s Pittsburgh offense did nothing at all down the stretch. There are real questions about Pickett’s ability to be a franchise QB, and the offense in general; alarms will really begin to sound if they can’t score the ball against Vegas.
The Raiders picked up a surprising opening day win over the Broncos, in which QB Jimmy Garoppolo was also a pleasant surprise as he played one of his better games in recent memory. He came right back to earth in game two, as did the rest of the team en route to a blowout loss to the Bills in which the team looked much more like the squad we expected them to be this season. The Steelers are not the Bills offensively, not by a long shot, but with 27 points scored over the first two games, it’s worth wondering if the Raiders will be generating many points of their own, especially after the Washington Commanders hung 35 on that Broncos defense.
As the first few paragraphs might imply, I’m very lukewarm on both of these teams as overall units. As unreasonable as it may be for the Raiders to be favored over anybody right now, 2.5 is a very significant football number, and against a Steelers team that has shown very little, Josh McDaniels’s bunch might be able to eke out a win by a field goal. Instead, let’s play the under; 43.5 isn’t a huge number, but both teams getting into the 20s or one cracking 30 points seems to be a high-end outcome at this point in the season as both offenses struggle to find an identity.
Steelers vs Raiders Prediction & Best Bet: under 43.5 points
Steelers vs Raiders Betting Odds
The Raiders are 2.5 point favorites at home, with -115 odds to cover compared to -105 for the Steelers. For a total of 43.5, both sides of the line are -110 to wager.
Steelers vs Raiders Key Injuries
While the Raiders are still healthy at this early stage of the seaosn, the Steelers are already without d-lineman Cameron Heyward, wideout Diontae Johnson, and possibly star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who is listed as questionable.
Steelers vs Raiders Key Matchups
The Steelers offense, ranked dead last in PFF’s rankings, desperately needs to improve at the line of scrimmage, while their defense has a good chance to hamper Jimmy Garoppolo by pressuring him- let’s take a look at some gritty positional matchups in this one.
Steelers O-Line vs. Raiders Front Seven
There’s not a single Steelers offensive position group that has performed adequately to start the season, so let’s dig into one that could have a decent day in an area where the Raiders have also struggled thus far. That would be the Steelers offensive line, going up against a Raiders front seven that has the team sitting in 25th in PFF’s pass rushing ranks, and a dismal 30th against the run. Max Crosby has been solid at the line of scrimmage, but beyond him, it’s been a nearly unmitigated disaster.
That being said, the Steelers’s are PFF’s last-ranked pass blocking unit with a nearly impossible grade of 25.1, while the run blocking grade only has them a bit higher at 30th. Guard Isaac Seumalo and tackle Chukwuma Okafor have been the relative bright spots, in the sense that they belong on an NFL bench rather than out of the league entirely. It’s a dismal bar, but that’s where the Steelers are at, and they’ll likely have to take a big step up to avoid a wave of losses with a tough stretch of schedule on the horizon.
Raiders Pass Unit vs. Steelers Pass Rush
PFF doesn’t consider the Steelers to have a special secondary, but they’ve been covered up by the rating service’s fourth-highest graded pass rush. TJ Watt, who scored his first-ever touchdown to beat the Browns, leads the league with four sacks and is the main man up front for Pittsburgh. He’s joined on the edge between Alex Highsmith, and the duo flanks d-linemen such as Larry Ogunjobi and Keeanu Benton, forming a formidable force.
They’ll be facing an Vegas o-line that PFF considers to be the league’s best pass-blocking unit thus far. Left tackle Kolton Miller has been a true anchor, with guard duo Greg Van Roten and Dylan Parham chipping in nicely as well. The pass-catchers, led by All-Pro talent Davante Adams are also sixth in PFF’s rankings, and will need to find space quickly to give Jimmy Garoppolo some quick opportunities before Watt and company can reach him, as Garoppolo historically crumbles under pressure.