Tennessee has been getting run over in 2012, losing four of their first five games to start the season. They’ve lost their four games by an average margin of 24 points and their defense is on pace to allow more points than any other team in NFL history, which doesn’t make their chances too great when they host Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tennessee Titans
NFL Betting Odds: Steelers -6
How The Steelers Can Win
Outside of their Week 1 loss to Denver, the Steelers have played pretty well so far this season, and the sagging running game should receive a boost with the return of Rashard Mendenhall, who ran for 81 yards and a score in a 16-14 win over Philadelphia. That will open up the passing attack even more for Ben Roethlisberger, who has guided the Steelers to 11th in the passing-yards rankings.
The defense is stout as always and is usually a key to Pittsburgh’s betting lines, but Troy Polamalu aggravated a calf injury and Lamarr Woodley left with a hamstring strain. The Steelers’ defense is getting older and injuries are starting to play a bigger role, so keep an eye on the injury report.
How The Titans Can Win
Tennessee may have to pray in order to get a win on Thursday night. Chris Johnson may be the biggest disappointment in the league, especially after holding out last season, and the Titans are leaning back on Matt Hasselbeck with Jake Locker on the shelf. The Titans have scored more than 14 points just once, which came in their OT win over the Lions, and they’ve allowed 30 points or more in all five games.
The first thing that the Titans need to do is to play inspired and even though it may not get them into the “win” column, it would do a lot for moral if Tennessee could just keep it close with the Steelers because they have been getting blown out all season. It is especially important to put up a good effort in a national-televised game on the NFL Network, and this game is massive in terms of the Titans’ season. If they get walloped one more time, huge changes (dropping Johnson, perhaps, for starters) could be coming.
Outlook And Pick
The betting lines have the Steelers favored by six points on the road on Thursday night, and the Titans have held their own against Pittsburgh, going 9-5 straight up and 7-6 ATS in their last 14 meetings with Pittsburgh. However, past games may not play a heavy role into picking your winner for this matchup as the Titans are playing as badly as any team in the league.
Tennessee has to run the ball to keep Pittsburgh’s blitz honest, but they haven’t been able to yet this season, which means the Steelers can rush Hasselbeck as much as they want and he isn’t mobile enough to allude “Blitzburgh”. Tennessee’s defense isn’t nearly good enough to keep them in the game, either. Pittsburgh to cover is the play to make on Thursday.
NFL Pick: Steelers -6