Time: 8:20 p.m.
Odds: Pittsburgh -7
Looking to build momentum off Sunday’s 16-14 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, the Steelers face a Tennessee team tonight that some are calling the worst team in football and the statistics say they are. This is an inferior team that the Steelers can’t have a letdown against, as a loss against the Titans will give Pittsburgh a third AFC loss on the season, something that could haunt them come wildcard time.
The Titans enter tonight’s game with a league worst minus-93 point differential and they can’t stop anyone, giving up 280 passing yards per game and an NFL worst 36.2 points per game. The Titans also can’t get to the quarterback, producing just seven sacks in five games and the Titans struggles to get pressure will be a receipe for disaster against Ben Roethlisberger who might be playing the best football of his career.
Pittsburgh is going to get their points and the offense should have a big day, however, I’d express some caution to Steelers fans that the Steelers could be in for a tougher game than many expect tonight.
In four of five games, Tennessee has scored 14 points or less, but they put up 44 points against the Lions in week 3 and they have the offensive playmakers where it wouldn’t shock me if they go out and have similar success that Oakland did against Pittsburgh’s defense in week 3. As bad as Chris Johnson has been, he has that ability to go 60+ yards at any point and at the wide receiver position, Tennessee has big play threats at wide receiver in Kenny Britt, and Nate Washington who’s averaging 19.6 yards per catch. Rookie Kendall Wright has a team-leading 27 receptions and tight end Jared Cook is a very under-rated tight end who the Titans want to get involved more in the offense tonight.
Here’s going to be the key: Pittsburgh getting pressure to Matt Hasselbeck. One thing Pittsburgh’s has been susceptible to this season is established veteran quarterbacks carving them up through their ability to read what the Steelers defense is going to do pre-snap. It was a big issue against Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer and if the Steelers don’t get pressure to Hasselbeck, it could be the same story but likely to a lesser extent to the damage Manning and Palmer did against the Steelers defense in week 1 and week 3, respectively. Against Philadelphia though, when reviewing the tape the stats made the Steelers defense look better than they actually performed.
— With Rashard Mendenhall back in the fold, the Steelers offense looks primed to breakout over the next several games. Pittsburgh in their next five games face 29th ranked defense (TEN), 18th ranked defense (CIN), 26th ranked defense (WAS), 22nd ranked defense (NYG), and the Kansas City Chiefs in week 10 who are giving up 29 points per game.
— Ben Roethlisberger enters tonight’s game with a 65.8 completion percentage, 9 touchdowns, 1,124 passing yards and has thrown just 1 interception and ranks 3rd in the NFL with a 102.9 passer rating. Tonight is the type of game where he needs to rack up the stats to be in the deserved MVP discussion by mid-season he appears headed to. Roethlisberger threw 5 touchdowns against the Titans last season.
— What to watch for the Steelers defense tonight is how defensive coordinator uses Lawrence Timmons who finally had the breakout game Sunday that many have been waiting for . Does LeBeau unleash Timmons like he did Sunday vs Eagles? LeBeau unleashing him against the Eagles played a part in Timmons dominant play and if LeBeau doesn’t, it will be a big mistake.
— The Steelers ability to run inside improved vs the Eagles and while Willie Colon’s improved play at guard play a part, Maurkice Pouncey has been the most dominant center in the game this season.
INJURY REPORT: PIT LaMarr Woodley (OUT), Troy Polamalu (out)
Prediction: Pittsburgh 30 – Tennessee 24
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