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NFL Thursday Night Predictions
Will The Steelers Grasp First Overall In The AFC?
Uncharacteristically, the Pittsburgh Steelers placed themselves in a position of power by winning more games on the road than at home. Typically, Roethlisberger and the Steelers play poorly away from Pittsburgh, but this season marks a potential turnaround for the franchise, transcending past limitations.
The Tennessee Titans have scraped past a relatively weak schedule this year, although wins against the Seahawks and the Ravens show an ability to step up against some of the better defensive squads in the NFL. Tonight, the Titans will have their work cut out for them against the surging Steelers.
NFL Thusday Night Picks
- Game: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Pick: Steelers Beat -7 Spread, Under 44.5
- NFL Odds Courtesy of Sports Interaction
Titans at Steelers - Vital Trends
Steelers Pass Defense Near The Top
The Steelers rank second in the NFL in terms of passing yards allowed, ceding a mere 181.7 per game. They’ve also given up only eight passing touchdowns all year, which ranks third in the league. Coach Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Keith Butler have crafted a scheme which counteracts the dominant offensive meta of the NFL, which involves airing the pigskin as often as possible. Tennessee will likely struggle to gain momentum via the pass.
Pittsburgh’s Second-Ranked Defense Has A Weakness
Pittsburgh concedes the second least points on average in the NFL, with the opposition earning only 16.4 PPG. This doesn’t mean that the Steelers D is air-tight. Compared to their pass rush, Pittsburgh defends the run far less efficiently, ranking 11th in yards allowed. Perhaps more important, coach Tomlin’s crew ranks 13th in preventing rushing TDs, suggesting that the Titans will be able to convert red zone opportunities through the run – if they can get close to Steelers territory.
Marcus Mariota’s An Above Average Running Pivot
Marcus Mariota has shown the ability to gain much-needed yards when he reads an open lane made available by opposing defenses. He averages 5.7 yards per attempt and 22.6 yards per game, good enough for top ten among quarterbacks for total rushing yards, despite missing a game and experiencing injury issues this year. If the Steelers don’t consider Mariota a threat on the ground, he’ll burn Pittsburgh’s defensive line, opening the rest of the field up to attack.
Titans Defense Below NFL Average – Except Against The Run
Pittsburgh’s not known as a high-powered offensive team, but they’ll have a chance to beat their average of 20.8 PPG against the Titans. Tennessee allows 23.7 PPG, but that’s slightly inflated because of a ridiculous 57-14 loss against Houston in week four. Otherwise, the Titans allow the sixth least number of yards on the ground, giving up only four running TDs this season. Unfortunately, this team has difficulty preventing passing TDs, allowing 17 in nine games.
Le’Veon Bell And Antonio Brown Ready To Go To Town
The Steelers have one of the best running backs in the league, along with one of the most dynamic wide receivers in the game. RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown lift Big Ben up on a nightly basis, making everything easier for the slow-footed, sometimes inaccurate quarterback. Regardless of the looks Tennessee throws at the Steelers, Bell and Brown will get their reps in. If the Titans overcompensate for their lack of pass defense, Bell will thrive. Focus too much on Bell, and Brown will walk all over Tennessee’s secondary.
NFL Thursday Night X-Factors
Playing on short rest disrupts established patterns for NFL teams, which causes an unusual amount of uncertainty. Last Thursday, the Seahawks needed a miracle scramble play from Russell Wilson to overcome injuries to the Legion of Boom and other key personnel. As such, point spread favorites have performed poorly on Thursday in 2017.
The Steelers are 6-3 over their last eight meetings with the Titans, and half of these wins were by a touchdown or more. Pittsburgh has won only three games this year by more than seven, making the spread a bit more tenuous. In this case, since the Titans have won most of their games against incompetent teams, expect Tennessee to get exposed as a middle-tier NFL squad.
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