With the New England Patriots just around the corner, it would be easy for the Pittsburgh Steelers to forget that the Oakland Raiders are on this weekend’s schedule. The Patriots, unlike the Raiders present a measuring stick game that could push the Steelers firmly back into the playoff mix. That can’t happen, however, if the Raiders ambush the Steelers in what appears to be a rather strange trap game.
It’s odd that we can call a game between two 2-4 teams a trap game, but there’s no denying the Steelers’ ability to make late season runs. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and much of the team, has been to the promise land, and that experience isn’t worthless. It gives the Steelers a leg up over the other teams hoping to make late season runs.
With the New England Patriots on deck, no one would blame the Pittsburgh Steelers for looking beyond the Raiders. After all, many Steelers fans are likely already eyeing next weekend’s game.
The Steelers do have veteran leadership on their side. With so many aging veterans, it’s likely the older players are reminding the younger players to take the season one game at a time.
The Raiders, on the other hand, will be handling the game in a far different manner. For the Raiders, this weekend’s game represents the team’s last opportunity to keep themselves in the playoff race. With the Chiefs and Broncos running away from the rest of the division, there’s virtually no way the Raiders can work themselves back into the divisional race, leaving them one wildcard slot to snag.
Unfortunately, at least for Oakland, their hopes are bleak. They trail a number of other teams in the AFC playoff picture, and as mentioned before, their divisional schedule is brutal.
As the season progresses, trap games will become more and more prevalent. This is an early example, and it’s admittedly less of a “trap” than some of the late season spoiler games. Still, there’s a playoff spot on the line for the Steelers, and if they get caught looking past this weekend’s game, they may find themselves out of the playoff picture for good.