Let’s get this out of the way right now. It does not matter how pretty or how ugly, but the Pittsburgh Steelers should win tonight’s game in Nashville plain and simple. If they don’t, there will be blame all over the place and I guarantee you I’ll be commenting either way.
As usual, I’m looking at three keys to the Steelers earning a victory tonight over the Titans.
1. No Excuses – The Steelers are playing their second game in 4 days and so are the Titans. In fact Tennessee played a late game on Sunday so they’ve had less time to prepare if you want to get knit-picky. All this talk of the Steelers being old and injured, especially on defense cannot and will not be tolerated. If ‘the standard is truly the standard’ then go out and show it by whipping this opponent tonight. The Steelers will then have a mini-bye week of sorts before playing in Cincinnati in 10 days.
2. Don’t Fall in Love With the Run – With the return of Rashard Mendenhall and the team rushing for its’ best total yardage of the season on the ground last week, I’m concerned this team will suddenly revert back to the days of yore and try to run the ball every darn play. Don’t do it! The Titans rank near the bottom (27th I believe) in pass defense and we are coming in with a hot quarterback and a plethora of excellent receivers. Attack the weaknesses of the opponent and keep them on their heels.
3. Keep the Streak Alive – The Steelers have beaten the Titans in three straight games and in those, Chris Johnson is averaging 15 carries and 47.3 yards per game with just one touchdown. The plan is simple; the more you limit him early in the game, the more he wilts throughout it. This game needs to become one-dimensional and have it placed on the shoulders of Matt Hasselbeck who the Steelers know quite well.
My concern is that with the speedy Johnson, DIck LeBeau may be less likely to bring the heat with Lawrence Timmons as he did last week against Philly. Stay aggressive Coach! Timmons clearly excelled when he was allowed to attack so let’s continue to see the different looks and blitz packages.
Prediction: A loss here makes last week’s impressive defensive effort meaningless and the Steelers are hungry for a convincing road win. Tennessee under Mike Munchak will play hard. It’s a national TV game and no one likes to be embarrassed in front of all their peers. With that said, Ben Roethlisberger is playing at too high of a level to allow this team to lose. Steelers 20 Titans 13