It’s an early start to week six for the Steelers, as they play their what seems to be annual Thursday night game on the road against the Titans. Last season it was the Browns at home, and the year before, the Panthers at home, so playing on the road on a Thursday is a little different for the black and gold.
The last time they played on the road on a Thursday, they played a one-win Browns team in December of 2009 – and lost. So before you go marking down a “W” for the game vs the Titans, there’s much work to be done.
Let’s see what the Steelers have to do to get to 3-2 as opposed to 2-3.
1. Smother C.J. – Last week vs the Vikings, Titans running back Chris Johnson had another poor performance, rushing for just 24 yards on 15 carries and fumbling once. Wanna know how bad he’s been in 2012? How about a 2.9 yards per carry average to go along with 210, which is less than 50 a game. How bad do you think he wants to get off against the Steelers? Badly. And the Black and Gold can’t let that happen. They did an excellent job against him in the 2008 meeting in Tennessee, and have to do it again this time around. To add to that, second stinger Javon Ringer is out with an injury, meaning Johnson will get just about all the looks in the Tennessee running game.
2. Score early, score often – The Titans defense is bad. Very bad. They have given up an NFL-high 181 points so far and has been outscored by a league-worst 93. That means scoring, like it was in Oakland, should not be that hard for a Steelers offense that had their share of issues last week scoring vs the Eagles. Tennessee can’t match up with the Steelers offense, and it looks like easy pickins for Ben Roethlisberger, who should have well over 300 yards in this one.
3. Get off the Field - One way to let the Titans hang around is to give them extra downs, which can be done a couple of ways – bad penalties, and not getting off the field on third down, which was an issue vs the Raiders. Tennessee isn’t that good, and while they put up a ton of points vs the Lions at home, that was with Jake Locker, who was coming on, not Matt Hasselbeck. This is a win every way you look at it – pure and simple, but giving Tennessee extra shots on offense to stay on the field is a way for them to stay in it.
Prediction – Don’t get pretty, don’t get overconfident, just come out and play Steeler football. The offense should get 30 or very close to it, and even with a banged up D, the Steelers should be able to keep the Titans playmakers in check. The Steelers played down to the Colts last season, down to the Raiders this season, and can’t do that against the Titans, who they should handle with ease if they play as well as they did vs the Eagles Sunday at home. Pittsburgh 27 Tennessee 13