coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
On 09/01/2013 02:51 PM in NFL

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers: Preview and Pick

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers: Preview and Pick

The 2013 NFL season kicks off this week and there may be no other franchise that embodies the term “smash mouth football” like the Pittsburgh Steelers. However when the season starts for this team on Sunday September 8, against the Tennessee Titans the fans might see a different version of this Steelers team.

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers Odds
The Steelers have one of the better home field advantages in the National Football league and because of this they opened up as (-6.5) point favorites in the opener. With the popularity of the Steelers and the public money, this line has now jumped to seven points and sits at a key number in handicapping circles.

The Steelers have always been known as a tough defensive team who can run the rock, but heading into this game against the Titans, the run game is up in the air. The Steelers have had a slew of injuries to the running back position, most notably highly touted rookie Le'Veon Bell. Bell may be able to play sooner than later, but the injury prompted the Steelers to make a trade for Felix Jones who most likely will start the season in the backfield.

This puts all of the pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to move this offense down the field and put up plenty of points against the Titans. For the Titans, the offense goes through one player and that player is running back Chris Johnson.
Johnson powers a Titans offense that is hoping to turn the corner along with quarterback Jake Locker under center. The Titans are often overlooked as a contender and may be a surprise team in the NFL this season.

The football betting trends indicate that the Steelers are a tough take for the football betting fan that is trying to cash a ticket. The Steelers are 4-10-1 against the spread ATS in their last 15 against the AFC, 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 home games and 2-5-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall. The Titans are not much better at 6-13-1 ATS in the last 20 gamers overall but it is interesting to note that the underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five games in this physical series.

The Steelers are fine tuning their roster as they get ready to open the season in front of a rowdy home crowd, while the Titans are out to prove they should be taken seriously.

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers Pick

The NFL season is still days away and teams are still making final roster moves, so I will wait to release this pick as we get closer to game time!

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
09/02/2013 03:01 PM

Last season, the Titans broke the Terrible Towel curse when Rob Bironas hit a game-winning field goal as time expired. Much like the Titans last year, the Steelers were banged up and Matt Hasselbeck started that game. But a win’s a win.

These teams aren’t in the same division anymore. Regardless, this is a must-win game for many reasons.

This rivalry is still here and I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon. The Titans want to smack them in the mouth every time they play them. Same goes for the Steelers. The Steelers felt completely disrespected after that 2008 showing on the sidelines. They should. This is a team that possesses a very smart head coach and players.

The Steelers have an act for getting under the skin of undeveloped quarterbacks. Remember when Vince Young would face them? Not pretty. Locker will be tested quickly against a veteran defensive unit including William Gay, Ike Taylor, and Troy Polamalu in the secondary. These guys have an act for finding the football. If Jake stares down his receivers too long, then they will have a field day.

This will be important for Locker’s development. If the Titans win this game and Locker’s stat line looks good, then the Titans and fans can feel better about their quarterback. It’s only the first game but this really is a huge test.

The Steelers have won 10 consecutive home-openers. That’s impressive. If the Titans can break that streak, then it could mean this team is for real. The Steelers will be without running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell showed how good he can be while playing at Michigan State. He could’ve really helped the Steelers run game.

Isaac Redman and Felix Jones will receive the majority of carries. This will be a test to see if the Titans run defense has improved from last season. If Redman and Jones run all over them, then how confident would you be with the run defense going forward?

If the Titans can win this game by stopping the run, this will show some hope. Last season, everyone was running on the Titans including a familiar name around here now, Jackie Battle. Beating Pittsburgh will give them huge momentum going into Houston. More importantly, a win would be a tiebreaker if both teams are in the wild-card hunt.

We will get a chance to see how well this new run game looks against this defense. The Steelers ranked seventh against the run last season. This will be another huge success if the Titans can go into Pittsburgh and run the ball down their throats. This would show how good the offensive line and running backs are. We’ll see decent matchups between Jason McCourty vs. Antonio Brown plus Alterraun Verner vs. Emmanuel Sanders. What can the Titans secondary do against mid-level wide outs?

There are many more reasons this is a must win. On Sunday, the Titans will stand in front of a sold out Pittsburgh crowd with tons of momentum on the opponents side. These players are hungry for action and they want to beat up on the Titans.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
09/03/2013 04:10 PM

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin confirmed Tuesday that Isaac Redman will open the season as the team's starting running back. '"We know what Isaac is capable of. He's answered the bell for us in the past," Tomlin said at his weekly news conference. "We expect him to do it in a big way moving forward."

Redman played in the Steelers' first preseason game only as he was hampered by a pinched nerve in his shoulder. The former undrafted free agent practiced fully Monday and said he is ready for a full workload. Tomlin said that Redman has a clean bill of health.

The Steelers' depth chart lists Redman and rookie Le'Veon Bell as the starters, but the latter is out for the 1 p.m. ET game Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. Bell, a second-round draft pick, is recovering from a mid-foot sprain. He is out of a walking boot, and Tomlin said there is a chance Bell could take part in some individual drills this week in practice.

Bell's absence does not necessarily mean Redman will be the Steelers' feature back. Tomlin said the Steelers will "spell" the fourth-year veteran, though he added that the rotation behind Redman has not been set. LaRod Stephens-Howling will likely be the third-down back, and Felix Jones also figures to get some carries in relief of Redman.

Jones impressed the Steelers enough in two preseason games -- and a short week of practice -- that they kept the sixth-year veteran over Jonathan Dwyer, who led the Steelers in rushing in 2012.

Stephens-Howling and Jones, acquired in an Aug. 23 trade with the Eagles, will also be the Steelers' primary kickoff returners. "We're continuing to get to know Felix," Tomlin said. "We like his natural run instincts. He quickly proved that he can do some positive things in terms of running the football."

Redman opened last season as the starting running back, but he finished with just 410 yards and two scores and averaged 3.7 yards per carry. He rushed for a career-high 147 yards against the Giants in early November, but the 6-foot, 230-pounder didn't receive more than nine carries in the eight games that followed that performance.

Redman said it was difficult to get into a rhythm while splitting carries with other backs. His goal after getting a second chance to start: not giving the Steelers a reason to take him out of games. "If everything holds up and I stay healthy," Redman said, "I'm planning on going out there and performing and [keeping the coaches from] wanting to put anyone else in."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
09/04/2013 04:13 PM

The Titans will this weekend go up a Pittsburgh offense missing some of its most significant parts from last year.

Gone are top wide receiver Mike Wallace (64 catches, 13.1-yard average, 8 touchdowns) and top running back Jonathan Dwyer (623 yards, 2 TD), and it’s highly unlikely that injured tight end Heath Miller (79 catches, 4 touchdowns) will play in the game either.

The Steelers didn’t look too impressive offensively in the preseason, averaging just 14 points in four losses, the second-worst figure in the league. In the third preseason game of the season, when the first-team offense played for an entire half against Kansas City, it posted 10 points.

“It looked like preseason football,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Pittsburgh’s offense. “We had some positive moments, we had some moments to grow from. I really don’t paint with a broad brush and anticipate the regular season playing out in any (similar) form or fashion. The reality is that in preseason, you’re looking for certain things. Sometimes you put yourself in less than advantageous positions by design, just to know what it is you’re working with.”

The Steelers will eventually get a big boost at the running back spot when injured rookie Le’veon Bell returns, but veteran Isaac Redman will start on Sunday. The Steelers still have at least two talented receivers in Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, but neither scares defenses the way Wallace did.

“With Mike (Wallace), obviously you lose a whole lot of speed,” Steelers coach Ben Roethlisberger said. “With Heath (Miller), you lose kind of that security blanket, a comfort guy that safeties had to pay attention going down the middle. He worked the linebackers underneath. We just need the guys that are here to fill in and do the best they can.”

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
09/05/2013 03:07 PM

The Tennessee Titans fielded one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last season. They ranked 31st in the league in both total sacks allowed and adjusted sack rate.

With Jake Locker facing a make-or-break season, the franchise made the offensive line a top priority this offseason, drafting Alabama guard Chance Warmack in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft and signing former Bills guard Andy Levitre. The team also picked up former St. Louis Ram Rob Turner and UCLA's Brian Schwenke, both of whom will compete for the starting center position.

The Titans could be one of the most talented offensive lines in the NFL this season. While center may be somewhat of a concern, Turner provides veteran experience while Schwenke, the reigning All-Pac-12 center, has the potential to develop into a special player.

During his four seasons at Cal, Schwenke played in 48 of 50 games, while starting in 36 since his sophomore season. He also showed versatility playing three different positions, which included 16 starts at left guard, 12 at center and eight at right guard.

Warmack was the first player selected among one of the all-time great offensive lines in college football history. The 6'2", 317-pound Warmack was regarded by ESPN's Todd McShay as "the best player in the entire [2013] draft." Warmack started the final 40 games of his college career at left guard, playing in each of the Tide’s 14 games during his senior season. He also blocked for three future NFL running backs, including 2009 Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram.

With the signing of Andy Levitre, Tennessee gets a proven veteran entering the prime of his career. The 29-year-old has started in all 64 regular season games since beginning his career in 2009. Last season, Levitre was part of a Buffalo offense that allowed just 30 sacks (fifth fewest in the AFC) and blocked for a rushing attack that averaged 138.6 yards per game, second amongst AFC teams.

The new acquisitions join three-time Pro Bowler Michael Roos and veteran David Stewart, who returns to the starting lineup after facing a season-ending leg fracture in December 2012. During his eight-year career in Tennessee, Roos has started in all but one game. Over the span of his career, the Titans have allowed the fourth-fewest sacks in the NFL (207) trailing only the Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints and New York Giants.

Since becoming a full-time starter seven years ago, David Stewart has blocked for a 1,000-yard rusher each season. He and Roos both served as key contributors to Chris Johnson’s 2000-yard season in 2009.

The Titans' nucleus of proven veterans and young, potentially great prospects on their revamped line could prove to be the right mix to jump-start their offense. This line should provide Jake Locker the protection necessary to have a breakout season.

Chris Johnson will run behind one of the most talented groups he's played with during his six-year career. This could propel his production back to that of the NFL elite rushers, allowing him to find holes for the home run plays fans used to be accustomed to early in his career.

The offensive line rarely gets any glory during highlights, but is just as important to the team's success as any other position. Tennessee has done a great job this offseason improving one of the poorest offensive units in the league and transforming them into a potential force.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
09/06/2013 02:46 PM

As long as Ben Roethlisberger is healthy, the Steelers have a chance to beat any team in the NFL. That statement is believed by most who follow the Steelers and the NFL.

There have been plenty of times in which Roethlisberger was healthy and stood on the sidelines, like those who cover and/or follow the team, waving a Terrible Towel, and watched the Steelers' defense dominate their opponent.

Not to take anything away from Roethlisberger, but the Steelers defense has been as much a part of the success of this franchise over the nine years of his career as he has. When both are clicking, watch out. When the defense is creating turnovers and generating pressure, the Steelers' defense is carrying the weight of the team. And that unit appears better prepared to do that in 2013 than it did in 2012 and 2011.

Depth and health at outside linebacker will be paramount. LaMarr Woodley, when healthy, is one of the more disruptive forces in the league. The utilization of Lawrence Timmons inside and out is dangerous, especially when equipped with heavy-handed and slithery Jarvis Jones. The pair, along with Larry Foote sprinkled in, will attack the A gap and force quarterbacks out of the pocket - or right into the edge rush.

All that rhetoric is fun to discuss - and write about - just hours before kickoff. This is the kind of stuff, though, that's been giving the Steelers defense confidence for nearly a decade - and longer.

Experience and explosion. Both will be on display Sunday as the Steelers take on the Titans in the first opportunity this defense has to shed the recent lack of big plays.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1
coleryan Posts:11989 Followers:20
09/08/2013 08:23 AM

PICK

Look for a brand new Chris Johnson as he runs behind a much better offensive line this season. The Steelers are still shell shocked from awful preseason. With a ton of injuries it will take the Steelers a while to get going on both sides of the ball. The points are too good to pass up and the Titans could get the outright upset.

Titans +7

  • Last 7 Days Record: 3-10-1