First thing’s first: The Steelers are mad at the Titans. Not just because they’re playing against them this Sunday in a match-up that has AFC Championship potential written all over it, but because the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak is what caused the Steelers to basically forfeit their bye week.
This game, originally scheduled for Week 4, had to be postponed due to the Titans’ outbreak, which forced the Steelers to take an early bye… except they’d already been practicing all week. More than one Steelers player spoke up about this, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who said Pittsburgh “got the short end of the stick.”
Whether or not the Steelers bring that energy onto the field remains to be seen, but this will surely be a test of who owns the AFC after six weeks of football. Neither team has had a very tough schedule so far. The Titans beat the Broncos, Jaguars, Vikings, Bills, and Texans in an overtime thriller, and the Steelers have won their games versus the Giants, Broncos, Texans, Eagles, and Browns each by at least 7 points.
Pittsburgh’s #1 ranked defense will have the task of shutting down Ryan Tannehill, who has been putting up MVP-like numbers for the Titans. Meanwhile, Tennessee’s defense is decidedly middle of the pack, meaning that Tannehill and Derrick Henry will have to score enough points to keep them in the game rather than relying on the defense to stop Ben Roethlisberger, who’s having a comeback season worthy of note after his major elbow injury in Week 2 of last season.
Look for Pittsburgh’s defensive line to pressure the Titans’ left tackle, Ty Sambrailo, who replaced Taylor Lewan after he tore his ACL last week. Sambrailo struggled against JJ Watt when he came in for Lewan in last week’s matchup versus the Texans and the Steelers will definitely have taken note. Tennessee will likely have no choice but to take to the air what with the Steelers’ #2 ranked defense against the run but it’s hard to count out Derrick Henry, especially in short yardage scenarios.
Betting Advice: Take all this info into consideration, on sides, totals, and props.
-- by Kyle King