The Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans will kick off Week 11 of the 2017 NFL regular season Thursday night at Heinz Field and if you were to poll every player on both teams you would probably be hard-pressed to find very many of them excited about playing on a short week. With that said, neither team really has a preparation time advantage over the other one as far as rest goes as both played early games this past Sunday.
Normal short week issues aside, such as travel, it’s probably worth noting that the Titans offense might just be the more sluggish unit of both teams Thursday night. Why? You may ask. Well, that unit did play 90 total snaps on Sunday in the team’s Sunday home win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Realistically, that’s right at a game and half worth of snaps. In the Titans first 8 regular season games they averaged just a little more than 60 offensive plays (penalty plays included).
Now, not every Titans offensive player played all 90 snaps against the Bengals but all five offensive linemen and quarterback Marcus Mariota certainly did. Additionally, skill position players Corey Davis, Rishard Matthews, Demarco Murray and Delanie Walker all played 67 or more snaps against the Bengals. In short, it won’t be surprising to see the Titans offense wear down quickly Thursday night.
So, what about the Steelers and their workload Sunday in their road win over the Indianapolis Colts? Well, the Steelers defense was only on the field for 59 plays against the Colts and only five players, Sean Davis, Artie Burns, Ryan Shazier, T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, played 57 or more snaps. Defensive ends Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt should both be reasonably fresh Thursday night as both only played 48 snaps against the Colts.
As for the Steelers offense, that unit played 66 snaps against the Colts with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and all five offensive linemen playing every snap. Running back Le’Veon Bell was only off the field for one snap Sunday and when you consider that he leads the league at his position in both snaps played ant total touches, it won’t be surprising to see rookie running back James Conner relieve him a little bit more against the Titans. If there’s one Steelers player you might want to worry about being worn out entering the Thursday night game, it’s Bell.
While the Titans offense might ultimately be a bit sluggish, or wear down quickly Thursday night, their defense should be reasonably fresh as that unit only played 51 snaps this past Sunday against the Bengals.
It will be interesting to review this game on Friday with this information now front and center. The Steelers already have a home-field advantage edge heading into this Thursday night game and they quite possibly might be the fresher of the two teams right now and especially when you consider that they just had their bye in Week 9.