Pair of first place teams meet Thursday night in Pittsburgh
November 16, 2017 7:29 AM
by Bob Christ
A pair of first place teams will be meeting Thursday night in Pittsburgh when the host Steelers, front-runners in the AFC North, take on the Tennessee Titans, who lead by AFC South by virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker over Jacksonville. It's the first time since Oct. 12 the midweek game will feature teams with winning records.
Now that we're deeper into November, weather could start playing a bigger role, though not necessarily to a great degree here. The wind chill should be at about freezing with winds estimated at 9 mph.
The odds are courtesy of South Point. Now for a closer look at the game:
Tennessee Titans (6-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2)
Time: 5:25 p.m. PST
Line: Steelers by 7 (44)
Facts: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will face a Dick LeBeau defense for the first time. He was Pittsburgh's DC from 2004-14, helping to win two Super Bowls, before moving on to Nashville... Both teams underachieved last week but rallied for victories. Pittsburgh was the biggest road favorite of the year vs. Indianapolis (10.5 points) and came back from a 17-3 deficit to escape with a 20-17 victory. Tennessee, meanwhile, rallied for a TD with 36 seconds left to beat slumping Cincinnati 24-20 as a 4.5-point choice... Pittsburgh scored 30 points in a game six times last year and seven times each in 2014 and 2015, but not at any time this year... These teams haven't met since 2014, when the Steelers won 27-24 on MNF, with Le'Veon Bell rushing for 204 yards – one of two such 200-yard games in his career.
Analysis: Although the Titans are on a hot streak, winning four in a row, those victories came against teams with a cumulative 10-27 record and Tennessee went only 1-3 ATS in that stretch. Also, QB Marcus Mariota, who was nursing a hamstring issue about a month ago, which greatly hampered his mobility, now is coming off an ankle injury (probable) on short rest. The offense could struggle if he's tethered to the pocket like he was in a MNF game vs. Indy a month ago. But Pittsburgh could find the going tough on offense, too, against a Titans defense that has held foes to 3.6 yards a rush, fourth best in the league. And if the Steelers couldn't push around the Colts' 31st-ranked overall defense last week, there's not much reason for optimism here. But they should score just enough to win at home.
Forecast: Steelers 19, Titans 16