Don't underestimate Oakland Raiders

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The Oakland Raiders, the Steelers' opponent Sunday, are a living, breathing example that a salary cap is no answer to administrative incompetence. They also are extreme proof that full parity does not exist in the National Football League.

Over the past 10 years, the Raiders, once an elite NFL franchise and arch-nemesis of the Steelers, are 51-115. How bad is that? An MLB team with the kind of winning percentage would be averaging 112 losses a season.

But if the Raiders go against the grain of some NFL cliches, here’s one they don’t: On any given Sunday...

As bad as the Raiders have been, they’ve won three of their past four games against the Steelers. Those wins came in 2006, when they were 2-14; in 2009, when they were 5-11 and in 2012 when they were 4-12.

So no one should be taking the 2-4 Raiders lightly this week, and this is, of course, especially true since the Steelers also are 2-4.

Of note, the Raiders' four losses have come against teams that are a combined 20-7 -- Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Washington. The Steelers losses have come against teams that are 13-14, Tennessee, Cincinnati, Chicago and Minnesota.

The Raiders have lost to Peyton Manning and Oliver Luck. The Steelers have lost to Jake Locker and Matt Cassel.

Despite being torched by Manning and Luck, the Raiders have the sixth-ranked defense in the NFL. Their offense hasn’t been much, averaging a puny 17.5 points a game -- which is .3 points fewer than the scoring machine known as the Pittsburgh Steelers.

None of this is to suggest the Steelers should or will lose. There are plenty of reasons to believe they will win and perhaps win easily.

• One of Oakland’s wins is over Jacksonville, which is 0-7.

• Though a dangerous runner and an improving passer, Jeannette’s Terrelle Pryor will be in only his seventh NFL start Sunday for the Raiders. He was sacked nine times against Kansas City last week.

In what should be a low-scoring game, the Steelers figure to continue their turnaround and take another step toward being the in the playoff discussion.


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