TENNESSEE TITANS (4-4)
at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-3)
Heinz Field – Pittsburgh, PA
Kickoff: Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: Pittsburgh -7.0, Total: 44.0
The Titans will be looking to make a statement with a victory over the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
The Titans are rolling right now, as they have won four straight games heading into this one. Last week, Tennessee defeated Cincinnati 24-20 as a five-point home favorite. The Titans are currently tied with the Jaguars for the top spot in the AFC South, so they will definitely be hoping to earn a victory here and keep themselves near the top. The Steelers, meanwhile, have also won four straight heading into this game. Pittsburgh has a comfortable lead atop the AFC North, but that doesn’t mean the team will be playing with any less intensity in this game. The Steelers know how important it is to be playing at home in the postseason and they can’t afford to be losing games like these if they are going to be hosting anybody in the playoffs. One trend that should make Tennessee feel pretty good about this game is the fact that the Steelers are a lousy 16-29 ATS off two or more consecutive Unders with head coach Mike Tomlin around. The Titans are, however, an even more pathetic 0-6 ATS in road games after failing to cover in four or five of their previous six games under head coach Mike Mularkey.
The Titans have a chance to really show the world what they’re made of on Thursday, so expect this team to play a very good game in this one. QB Marcus Mariota is the one that really needs to show up for Tennessee, though. Mariota hasn’t quite taken the leap that many were expecting he would this year, but he has still been solid for the Titans. Mariota also happens to finally be over his hamstring issues, as he rushed for 51 yards against the Bengals last week. When he is able to run like that, his game is one of the toughest to plan for in the league. And he should be able to find some success against Pittsburgh, as this defense is good but also tends to allow some big plays at times. It would really help Mariota if the running game can get going, though. RB DeMarco Murray had a good game against the Bengals last week, rushing for 42 yards and two touchdowns and also catching four passes for 30 yards and a score. He won’t be able to find the end zone that many times again here, but it’d be huge for the team if he can run the ball effectively. Defensively, the Titans will be focused on stopping the run here. The Steelers can obviously make plays in the passing game, but containing Le’Veon Bell is a must.
The Steelers can improve to 7-3 with a victory over the Titans on Thursday and RB Le’Veon Bell should be looking forward to this one. Bell has been held to just 156 yards rushing over the past two games, which is disappointing for a player of his caliber. Look for him to break out in this one, and don’t be shocked if he rushes for at least 130 here. The Titans have a solid rushing defense, but Bell will be eager to put on a show in this primetime game. And when Bell is drawing all of the attention from Tennessee’s defense, QB Ben Roethlisberger and this passing game will strike. Roethlisberger has had a down year in 2017, but he is still a threat to put up some big numbers once in a while. That is the case now more than any other time this year, too. That’s because WR JuJu Smith-Schuster has emerged as a stud next to WR Antonio Brown, who is already one of the league’s best receivers. Over the past two games, Smith-Schuster has racked up 290 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He has now scored in three straight games and could make some plays here.