The Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Nashville to face the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night. The game will be broadcast on NFL Network at 8:20 p.m.
I remember when Pittsburgh vs. Tennessee had all of the excitement of a Steelers/Ravens game. But that was back when both teams played in the now defunct AFC Central Division. These days, the game doesn’t generate nearly as much excitement. But it’s still a game that the Steelers have to win.
The Titans have a woeful 1-4 record, and have struggled on both offense and defense.
On offense, Tennessee’s star running back Chris Johnson is having one of the worst seasons of his career. He’s averaging only 42 yards per game. That’s 2.9 yards per carry. His longest run of the season is only 19 yards, and he has no touchdowns. That’s not the Chris Johnson that Titans fans are used to seeing.
To make matters worse, the Titans are without their starting quarterback Jake Locker, who is out with a shoulder injury. Veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck will start in his place.
On defense, the Titans are even worse. They have the 29th ranked defense in the NFL, and they seem incapable of stopping either the run or the pass. Their opponents have scored an average of 36.2 points against the Titans, as the Titans’ defense has allowed an average of 423 yards per game. There are high school teams that would have given up fewer yards against the teams that the Titans have played.
The Titans give up 144 yards per game on the ground, which should make Rashard Mendenhall very happy. And they’ve allowed 12 touchdowns passes, which is 2nd worst in the league. That should make Ben Roethlisberger even happier.
But the Steelers aren’t without their own challenges. Playing in Tennessee is never easy. More importantly, the Steelers will be without LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu. Both players suffered injuries in the Steelers’ win over the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
I anticipate the Steelers will keep their offense balanced to keep the Titans guessing. They should have success in both the running game and the passing game. This balanced attack should prove to be too much for the Titans.
I predict that the Steelers will win this game. The final score will be 31-16.