Thursday Night Football- Steelers vs Titans Preview
Week 6 kicks off tonight with two teams looking to improve on their respective disappointing starts as the 2-2 Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Tennessee to take on the 1-4 Titans.
The game is live on NFL Network for American viewers and will also be shown on Sky Sports 1 in Ireland.
Now without further ado, here is my preview of the big game.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans
Stadium- LP Field
Kick Off- 7:20 p.m. in Tennessee/1:20 a.m. in Ireland
What to Watch
Titans Running Game vs Steelers Linebackers
- Titans star Chris Johnson represents the classic case of what happens to a modern day running back after signing a big deal. Since getting a four-year $53.5 million contract extension last year, Johnson has seen his production decline drastically.
- After an awful start to 2012, he is on pace to record career lows in both rushing yards and touchdowns. Don’t count on Johnson get his first touchdown of the season against the dominant Steelers defense.
Titans Wide Receivers vs Steelers Secondary
- On paper, the Titans have a solid trio of wide receivers in Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and Nate Washington. These starters along with tight end Jared Cook provide great passing targets for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck through the air.
- As for the Steelers secondary, veteran safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark are among the best duos in the league. The winner of this position battle will be vital in deciding the outcome of the game.
Steelers Running Game vs Titans Defense
- The Steelers are currently the sixth worst team in the NFL in rushing yards per game which is surprising given that the franchise is a historically consistent running team. But never fear Steelers fans as star running back Rashad Mendenhall is back in the line up after a remarkable recovery from an ACL injury.
- With Mendenhall back in the mix, the offense will now be a much more balanced attack. The Titans defense should set out to stop the run and put pressure on Big Ben in the passing game.
Who to Watch
Akeem Ayers- Linebacker- Titans
- He may not grab many headlines in a division filled with promising linebackers, but Akeem Ayers is developing into one of the very best young players at the position. A second-round pick out of UCLA, Ayers looks to be a much more complete player in his second year.
- Although he is certainly improving, the rest of the Titans defense now need to step up and follow suit. Ayers will likely put on another productive performance tonight but he can’t do it all by himself.
Ben Roethlisberger- Quarterback- Steelers
- In some circles in the NFL, Ben Roethlisberger is still considered to be an overrated quarterback. Not on this blog however, as I consider the two-time Super Bowl winning Roethlisberger worthy of being called a Top Ten player at the position.
- Since winning those two titles, Big Ben has improved hugely as a passer. Add to that his unique ability to keep plays alive and you’ve got a key player for the Titans to watch out for tonight.
Mike Wallace- Wide Receiver- Steelers
- Just like Roethlisberger can call himself a Top Ten player at his position, Mike Wallace can do the same at his. Named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2011, Wallace is arguably the best deep threat in the game due to his tremendous speed and agility.
- Still yet to miss a game, his production is also highly impressive after back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. Look for Titans cornerback Jason McCourtny to have his hands full trying to cover Wallace tonight.
This game is crucial for both teams respective Playoff ambitions as neither can afford another loss on the record this early in the season.
I was successful last week when I picked a Rams upset win against the then undefeated Cardinals, but I’ afraid that I’ll be taking the safe option this week with a Steelers win.
Steelers 21 Titans 9
So that’s your preview and prediction, hope everyone enjoys the big game.