Steelers Versus Titans Week 1 Preview & Prediction
Offensively the Steelers will have the same look as the 2008 team that lost to Tennessee in December with the only change being Trai Essex at right guard. The Titans defense will have the same look personnel wise as well. In the 2008 match-up the offensive line played poorly, giving up 5 sacks and allowing a ton of pressure. The Steelers will look to give more help protection wise with using the tight ends to chip more. A successful running game this time around will be extremely important as well. Willie Parker averaged a sad 1.6 yards per carry in the 2008 game on 19 carries. Look for the Steelers to attack the middle of the field in the soft zone areas with Heath Miller and perhaps a few more screen passes. The Titans defensive backs are a good unit and need to be sucked in closer to the line of scrimmage to open up over top for a few big plays. If the Steelers can run effectively and stay out of predictable 3rd and long situations, they should be able to move the ball down field. It starts with the offensive line and the running game. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger needs to take what the defense gives him and avoid the forced pass into double coverage. Roethlisberger can throw for only 200 yards and still be brutal with the proper decision making, but he must have time.
Defensively, the Steelers will be without the services of linebacker Lawrence Timmons, but Keyaron Fox is more than capable of filling in. The most dangerous player on the 2009 Titans, is running back Chris Johnson. Johnson can kill you on the ground and with his pass catching abilities as well. Johnson rushed for 69 yards in the last meeting and was held to just one catch. The Steelers look to keep those numbers much the same this time around. The Titans could be without the services of former Steelers wide receiver Nate Washington, as he has been hampered by a bad hamstring. If Washington sits, it will leave the Titans only one experienced receiver in the starting lineup in the form of Justin Gage. The defense want to make quarterback Kerry Collins win the game with his arm and decision making. The Titans will look to shuttle in running back LenDale White in short yardage situations and breathers for Johnson and the Steelers will want to force White wide as he is a north south runner who likes to run down field. The front 3, must get pressure on Collins on passing downs against an experienced Titan offensive line.
Special teams wise, the Steelers are clearly the better unit going into this season. Barring any unforced errors, the game could be won on field position battles alone. Punter Daniel Sepulveda and new return man Stefan Logan could have a huge impact on this game.
Overall, this is an exact rematch of the 2008 game, only this time the Steelers are at home. The Steelers had 4 turnovers in the last meeting with one coming deep in Titan territory. The Steelers will do the little things better this time around and should come out on top in this one.
Prediction: Steelers 23 Titans 10