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Steelers can’t play ‘down’ to Titans in NFL Week 11

 

Steelers vs Titans

 

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers have seen some ugly games during the 2014 NFL regular season, mainly against teams who have no legitimate shot at the post-season without major overhauls.  In week 11, the Steelers cannot afford to play ‘down’ to the level the Tennessee Titans are in if Pittsburgh hopes to take control in the AFC North and march into post-season play.

Tennessee has proven over time to be a good opponent for Pittsburgh.  With Ken Whisenhunt as head coach and defensive coordinator Ray Horton, the Steelers aren’t a mysterious team for the Titans to figure out. Both coaches have spent time with the Steelers franchise.  Whisenhunt, in his time with the Arizona Cardinals, was often referred to running ‘Steelers West’ and often brought players released by Pittsburgh to Arizona.

Steelers Gab takes a look at NFL Week 11 and how the Steelers match up against the Titans.

 

Steelers

Titans

Ben_Roethlisberger_vs_Baltimore_Ravens_Nov_2014 Zach Mettenberger Tennessee Titans
BEN ROETHLISBERGER ZACH METTENBERGER
The Steelers were flat against the New York Jets in Week 10, but a healthy Roethlisberger can still find receivers if his offensive line protects him this week.  Roethlisberger has to shake off the mental errors and interceptions and use his physicality to shake off pass rushes and keep the offense moving. The Titans have gone through three quarterbacks this season, but rookie Zach Mettenberger will get the start in Week 11.  Mettenberger has good arm strength and awareness but is just jumping into NFL play.  He will be tested by a strong defensive pass rush from Pittsburgh.
ADVANTAGE
Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles Bishop Sankey, RB Tennessee Titans
Steelers Running Backs
Titans Running Backs
Due to poor offensive line cohesion, the duo of Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount were shut down in Week 10.  The pair will need to get back on track and get involved in the passing game as well to give the Steelers offense a multi-dimensional look. Developing a rushing game may give the Titans help for Mettenberger.  Bishop Sankey has rushed for 360 yards this season.  The Titans also have Shonn Greene who is more of a power back and made a costly fumble in Week 10.
SLIGHT ADVANTAGE
Martavis Bryant, WR Steelers Nate Washington, WR Tennessee Titans
Steelers Wide Receivers Titans Wide Receivers
Rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant continues to improve opposite Antonio Brown.  He showed that he can make good decisions coming back to the ball when Roethlisberger is in trouble as well.  Markus Wheaton and Lance Moore also saw more playing time against the Jets, but Darrius Heyward-Bey was not impressive. Wide receivers Nate Washington and  Kendall Wright will look to get open against a Steelers defensive backfield that played soft against the Jets.  Wright has great speed and long-play ability.
SLIGHT ADVANTAGE
Steelers Defense
Titans Defense
Lawrence Timmons (94) and James Harrison (92) - Pittsburgh Steelers Wesley Woodyard, ILB Tennessee Titans
The Steelers’ defense has suffered from poor offensive play and have had a mediocre season so far.  Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons continues to be the defensive player to watch with 92 tackles.  James Harrison has 4.0 sacks since returning to the team and is tied with defensive end Cam Heyward in that category.  The defensive backfield has been problematic with injuries and substitutions. The Titans have struggled on defense and rank 22nd in yards allowed in the league.  They are vulnerable against the run (29th).  Safety Michael Griffin leads the team with 63 tackles,  3.0 sacks and two interceptions. Inside linebacker Wesley Woodyard has 58 tackles, 5 passes defended and two interceptions.  Woodyard is an x-factor who makes big-time hits.
ADVANTAGE
Steelers Special Teams Titans Special Teams
Titans kicker Ryan Succop
After an unusual field goal miss by Shaun Suisham in Week 10, it appears that the unit may have been shaken a bit.  Punter Brad Wing has improved his play, but the Steelers still have yet to come up with an effective return game.  Coverage has been adequate. The Titans have done a solid job coverage and would love to see Dexter McCluster play on Monday night (knee).  Ryan Succop has been dependable as a kicker, making 11-of-13 FG attempts.  Punter Brett Kern is currently averaging 46.8 yards per punt.
SLIGHT ADVANTAGE
Mike Tomlin / Coaching Staff Ken Whisenhunt / Coaching Staff
Tennessee Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt
Mike Tomlin, Dick LeBeau and Todd Haley all had a tough time in Week 10.  They will have to use the extra practice time this week to get back on track.  The Steelers have not done well on the road and if the Titans can protect Mettenberger, the game could be very close. Ken Whisenhunt and Ray Horton know the Steelers first-hand from time they spent in coaching positions within the franchise.  They will look for any weakness the Steelers show on Monday night and take advantage.  They have talent on the field, but frustration may lead to another loss if the Steelers break out early.
SLIGHT ADVANTAGE
WINNERS
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