PITTSBURGH STEELERS (2-2)
at TENNESSEE TITANS (1-4)
Kickoff: Thursday, 8:25 p.m. EDT
Line: Pittsburgh -5Ĺ, Total: 42
After getting crushed on both ends of a two-game road trip, Tennessee returns to Nashville for a Thursday night date with a Pittsburgh team that has beaten the Titans in each of the past three seasons.
The Steelers are still dealing with injuries and havenít looked sharp on the road this year. Pittsburgh has dropped each of its two away games, SU and ATS, at Denver and Oakland. S Troy Polamalu (calf) is out again and OLB LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) is questionable at best. Neither offense has been crisp this year, though the Steelers got a boost from the return of RB Rashard Mendenhall (14 carries, 81 yards, TD last week against Philly). The Titans have really struggled on offense, especially with back-up QB Matt Hasselbeck under center and RB Chris Johnson (2.9 yards per carry) the biggest cause of an anemic rushing attack.
Can the Titans halt their losing streak against the visiting Steelers? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every NFL game throughout the 2012 season and playoffs.
Tennessee has lost all four of its games by at least three touchdowns, getting outscored 68-21 during its two-game road trip at Houston and Minnesota. The running game got back on track against the Texans with 158 rushing yards, but regressed against the Vikings with just 52 yards on 19 carries (2.7 YPC), marking the fourth game where the Titans rushed for fewer than 60 yards. Chris Johnson has faced the Steelers in each of the past four seasons with little success rushing for 52.8 yards per game on 3.5 YPC with 2 TD. The air attack hasn't been stellar either under Hasselbeck who has thrown for a mere 5.5 yards per attempt with 3 TD and 3 INT. He did play pretty well in last year's meeting at Pittsburgh though, completing 29-of-49 passes for 262 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. He should be getting a bit of a boost with WR Kenny Britt (ankle) likely to play all of the snaps. Britt hasn't been close to 100 percent in any game this season, and he creates matchup problems for a Steelers secondary missing star S Troy Polamalu.
The Steelers finally got their ground game cranking last week with the return of Mendenhall, attempting a season-high 31 carries for 136 yards (4.4 YPC). They figure to run even more on Thursday against Tennessee's 28th-ranked run-stop unit allowing 144 rushing YPG. However, the Titans pass defense is also terrible, giving up 280 passing YPG this year (25th in NFL). Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger had quite a day in last year's 38-17 romp over Tennessee, throwing five touchdown passes. He has completed 72% of his passes in four career meetings with the Titans, throwing for 1,138 yards (285 YPG), 10 TD and 5 INT. Roethlisberger has also been sharp in 2012 so far, throwing for 1,111 yards (278 YPG), 8 TD and just one interception.