NFL Game of the Week: Steelers vs. Titans
After a few weeks of waiting, the Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the Tennessee Titans in a highly anticipated meeting between the two remaining undefeated teams in the AFC.
This game was originally slated to take place in Week 4, but an outbreak of COVID-19 cases ravaged the Titans facility and made it infeasible to play the game during that official week of games. With that situation now under control, the two powerhouses are set to face each other, so let’s breakdown each AFC contender.
The Steelers have had a sterling start to their season, thanks to the return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after a season-ending elbow injury in 2019. Big Ben has steadied the offense with efficient play and minimizing the turnovers that Pittsburgh struggled with under Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges, and he is surrounded by a deep cast of playmakers.
The Steelers have been able to establish a physical tone in their games with hard running from tailbacks James Conner and Benny Snell, while rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool has exploded onto the scene and taken the heat off of fellow playmakers JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington. Pittsburgh doesn’t ask too much of its veteran signal caller, only that he gets the ball in the hands of his talented weapons and let them go to work, and so far that has been a winning recipe.
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been playing similar mistake-free football this season, and despite having only practiced sporadically since their virus outbreak, he has led the Titans offense to high-scoring wins in their past two games. Running back Derrick Henry is still the central piece of Tennessee’s attack and has been as explosive and difficult to tackle as ever.
Tannehill has shown to be more potent in 2020, and it seems that the offense doesn’t live or die by whether or not Henry can dominate the opposition. This balance to the offense poses a challenge to a well-stocked Steeler defense that has limited opponents 18.8 points per game.
The most intriguing matchup of this game is how the defensive front-seven of Pittsburgh will perform against the impressive rushing beast that Henry is. Pittsburgh is allowing a mere 66.2 yards on the ground per game, second best only to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in that category.
Henry’s ability to single handedly shove down would-be tacklers helps Tennessee dictate games, and the Steelers will need to prevent that from happening in order to win this game. Without ample time with the ball, the Steelers may struggle to get into an offensive rhythm, while the Titans appear to be able to rely on Tannehill to carry the offense through the air if need be.
It is hard to find a pairing of opponents that play such fantastic complimentary football, but this is one of those games. The Steelers are looking like the team that they could have been last year, and they will find a way to get a big win and prove that they are the class of the AFC. The only negative of this game is that it won’t be featured on a national television broadcast in primetime.
Prediction: Steelers 26, Titans 23
Jeremy Ganes is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.