The opening game of week six on the NFL schedule will feature the 2-2 Pittsburgh Steelers traveling to take on the 1-4 Tennessee Titans at LP Field on Thursday Night Football. The only thing that will truly be interesting about this contest is the fact that it will be the only NFL game on television that evening; other than that this one will probably be ugly, real ugly.
The Steelers enter this game coming off of their second win of the season in which they welcomed the return of running back Rashard Mendenhall who finally got the running game going for Pittsburgh’s offense. Against the Philadelphia Eagles last week Mendenhall rushed for 81 yards on 14 carries and also made a trip to the endzone in the process. After one game Mendenhall already ranks second on the team in rushing yards and should have another fantastic game this week versus a Titans defense which ranks 28th in the league against the run (144.2 rushing yards allowed per game). With the running game going it should also open up plenty of opportunities for Ben Roethlisberger (103-157 for 1,111 passing yards, 8 TD and 1 INT this season) and his receivers in the passing game as well.
The Steelers defense will have to overcome two of their key players being absent from the lineup due to injuries as safety Troy Polamalu (calf muscle strain) and outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) will sit out which James Harrison and Ryan Clark must pick up the slack at their positions. The Steelers defense is currently ranked fifth in total offensive yards allowed per game (280 yards), third in pass yard yards allowed per game (184.8 yards) 11th in rushing yards allowed per game (95.3 yards) and 16th in points allowed per game (22.3 points). With Tennessee lacking a potent or even decent offense those numbers will probably improve heading into week seven.
The Titans offense is playing almost as bad as their defense so far this season as they are 26th in the league in total offensive yards gained per game (305 yards), 30th in rushing yards gained per game (65.4 yards) and 27th in points scored per game (17.6 points). Jake Locker will miss his second consecutive game due to a shoulder injury and Matt Hasselbeck will attempt to fill his shoes and try to mount some form of offensive attack for the Titans. Running back Chris Johnson may just be the most disappointing player in the NFL this season rushing for just 210 yards on 73 carries for an average of 2.9 yards per carry and zero trips to the endzone.
The most alarming statistic regarding the Titans defense this season is not the fact that they rank 29th in the NFL in total offensive yards allowed per game (423.8 yards) or that they are dead last in points allowed per game (36.2 points) but the fact that they have given up 30 points or more in each of their first five games this season (first team in NFL history to do so). If they don’t do something different on defense then they could easily set the record for most points allowed in a single season. The record is currently held by the 1981 Baltimore Colts with 533 currently the Titans have allowed 181 in just five games.
Expect the Steelers to win this one big and move the Titans 30-point plus allowed streak to six games; 38-17 Pittsburgh.