So far, the Raiders have had little success in the 2012 season and that has been mostly due to their struggles up front adapting to the new zone blocking scheme. Their lack of prowess in the trenches leads to them not being able to make rushing lanes and having drives stall in the red zone.The line had a lot of success with the power blocking scheme last year, but the zone scheme is more complicated and the players are not fully comfortable or proficient at it yet. That combined with a groin injury to right tackle Khalif Barnes spells bad news for the Raiders against Pittsburgh, which consistently has one of the best defensive lines in football.
With such luminaries as Cameron Heyward, Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, and Casey Hampton playing on the line, they are formidable enough. Add the fact that they love to blitz with their talented linebackers such as Lamarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons, not to mention the threat posed by safety Troy Polamalu, and it's a lot for any offensive line to handle, let alone one struggling to master a new blocking scheme.
On paper, this game seems like a mismatch and a blowout waiting to happen. However, if the Raiders have any hope of performing well, they will have to win the battle up front and open lanes for Darren McFadden to run through and give Carson Palmer time to throw. The Steelers can be thrown upon, as Peyton Manning showed in Week 1. He was given lots of time by his offensive line and he did what might be expected of him. Palmer has the ability to do the same if the offensive line steps up their game.
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