Game Day Matchups

Neal Coolong breaks down the top matchups in today's Raiders-Steelers game.

ILB Lawrence Timmons vs. RB Darren McFadden

Both Timmons and McFadden are living up to their first-round status. They're their team's main components of their respective sides of the ball. Timmons' incredible sideline-to-sideline speed will be tested by McFadden's ability to explode off the edge.

The Raiders run outside the tackles far better than they do between them, and will do everything they can to get McFadden out of the box. Timmons will have to play disciplined in his pursuit, because McFadden can cut back at full speed and break contain easily. Conversely, McFadden needs to be equally disciplined and force Timmons to commit to the inside or outside if he is to be the first running back this season to break 100 yards rushing when Timmons starts at the mack ILB.

QB Jason Campbell vs. Pittsburgh's secondary

It's past the time to mince words, Pittsburgh secondary has been beaten on for six straight games. After Tom Brady put up one of the biggest passing performances in Heinz Field history, the Steelers have allowed quarterbacks to complete 68.1 percent of their passes in the last six games, for an average of 282 yards per contest (241 through their first three games). The biggest point of concern can be found in the Patriots game as well; their second tight end, primarily used for blocking, beat Steelers nickel back Willie Gay for two of those three touchdowns.

Oakland should be confident in the opportunity to play Pittsburgh again. Riding a three-game winning streak into their Week 10 bye, this could be the best Raiders team since their AFC Championship team in 2002. That doesn't say much, but Oakland has beaten Pittsburgh twice in their three meetings since then, including a 27-24 thriller last year. Raiders back-up QB Bruce Gradkowski threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, and 305 yards overall. Oakland is starting Campbell today, who had steadily improved from game to game, not having thrown an interception in his last three starts.

LG Chris Kemoeatu vs. DT Richard Seymour

Pittsburgh's battered offensive line has an even more difficult task in facing Oakland's dominant front four in Week 11. Seymour is playing some of the best football of his outstanding career, and it's opening up DT Tommy Kelly, who's having a career year of his own, and OLB Kamerion Wimbley. Seymour is Captain Castoff of the Raiders, symbolizing a strong group of players who have been written off for dead, career-wise, after being traded to Oakland. Whatever it is that's bringing their defensive unit together is clearly working, much of it on the steam of Seymour's effort up front.

Kemoeatu and Maurkice Pouncey will share responsibility of Seymour, sometimes both at the same time. Play-to-play, the Raiders' defense has been strong, but they can be run on, and to do that, the Steelers will need to engage in the trenches, something they've failed to do in over a month. Kemoeatu's return should help that, whether it's down blocking on Seymour or pulling down the right side of the line.

RB Rashard Mendenhall vs. MLB Rolando McClain

Through the team's first five games, Mendenhall averaged 23.2 carries per game. The Steelers won four of those five games. In the four games that have followed, his average dropped to 15.8 carries per game, and the Steelers went 2-2. Certainly there are extenuating factors involved (re: injuries), but considering Oakland is allowing 124.8 yards on the ground per game, this seems to be a good time to get Mendenhall the ball 22+ times. He's ninth in the NFL in both total yards (752) and yards per carry (4.2).

McClain, Oakland's first-round draft pick in 2010, is playing strong run defense, unlike most of the rest of Oakland's defense. He's not covering well, which is also against the trend among the Raiders. Mendenhall can be a receiving threat, and if and when McClain is locked on him, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will look to exploit that match-up.

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