Tennessee Titans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Date and Time: Thursday, November 16, 2017, 8:25 p.m. ET
Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Opening NFL Odds: Steelers -7, O/U 43.5
Titans vs. Steelers TV Coverage: NBC
The Steelers rolled off their fourth straight victory on Sunday against the Colts. The 20-17 victory wasn't their best performance, but they did get the job done on a day when they were playing at best at a B-.
It's hard to really see how Pittsburgh has gotten to 7-2 this year. Its defense has had far too many lapses against bad teams (we're looking at you, Jacksonville and Chicago), and its offense has yet to score 30 points in a game this season. Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell are awesome, but until JuJu Smith-Schuster and/or Martavis Bryant come into consistent form, this will always be an easy offense to game plan for.
The Steelers have played against a cupcake schedule to date, but they rank No. 2 in the NFL in scoring defense at 16.4 points per game.
This will probably be one of their toughest challenges of the season to date against Marcus Mariota and the Titans.
Mariota hadn't had a game since his return from his hamstring injury in which he was actively running around inside and outside of the pocket. He finally accomplished just that in last week's win over the Titans, especially on the game-winning drive.
When Mariota is moving around, he's a terror to try to stop. This is the second straight mobile quarterback Pittsburgh has to scheme for, though, and seeing Jacoby Brissett last week could help in the preparation in a short week against Mariota.
Matchup to Watch
What you can't simulate in practice is the ferocity with which the Titans run the football right up the gut. Every team in the NFL tries to do this in some way, shape or form, but Tennessee is just really good at it, especially out of the shotgun with Mariota on these plays where he has options built in. Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray are both stellar downhill runners, and when these guys get into open space, it's all over for the opposition.
We're reminded of the game against Chicago when the Bears didn't even remotely try to throw the football against Pittsburgh. The Steelers were gashed to the tune of 222 rushing yards on 38 carries, and when the rubber met the road in overtime, Jordan Howard had flat out worn down the Pittsburgh defense.
The Titans have to be going back and watching that tape over the course of these next few days for proof of what can work against the Steelers.
Titans vs. Steelers Free Picks
We take a look back at that Pittsburgh defense and wonder who in the heck the team has actually played against.
The Steelers have gone up against DeShone Kizer (in his NFL debut), Case Keenum (in his first game with the Vikings), Mike Glennon, Joe Flacco, Blake Bortles, Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford and Jacoby Brissett this season; no wonder why the team has one of the best defenses in the NFL.
The Titans are rolling at the moment as well having won four games in a row. Though Tennessee has been troubled by Houston this season, it also has a 21-point win at Jacksonville and a victory at home against Seattle to its credit from earlier in the campaign.
If you took the names off of the fronts of the uniforms and just looked at the names on the backs, you'd wonder why in the heck the team in black was favored by a touchdown at all of the top online sportsbooks. We have a hunch Tennessee is walking out of the 'Burgh with a massive, eye-opening upset.
NFL ATS Pick: Titans +7 at BookMaker.eu
NFL Score Prediction: Titans 24, Steelers 20