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NFL Tennessee Titans

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers: Preview and Spread

Jake Locker Not Bothered by Ron Jaworski’s Ranking

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

After upsetting the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night football last year, the Tennessee Titans visit their former division foes to start the 2013 NFL regular season, kicking off the first Sunday afternoon of meaningful pro football. Last year’s upset has failed to translate into much Titans hype in the lead-up thus far, as it seems they will head into Heinz Field as heavy underdogs.

Titans Week 1 Spread: Titans 7-point underdogs at Steelers Week 1

Titans Breakdown and Preseason Effect:

Tennessee mounted their colossal Thursday night upset over Pittsburgh last year on the back of what will probably go down as Matt Hasselbeck‘s last hurrah as a starting quarterback. The veteran reminded football fans what an excellent passer he was back in his prime, rewarding Tennessee for bringing him on as backup. Hasselbeck was of course filling in for Jake Locker, who spent a decent portion of the middle of last season injured.

Tennessee opens the regular season against the Steelers on Sept. 8 and gets an early look at Locker on Aug. 8, with the Washington Redskins coming to town for preseason action. All eyes will be on a Locker, the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft, who has yet to develop at an encouraging rate or show consistent pro-level accuracy. Word from Tennessean reporter Jim Wyatt at Titans training camp is that Locker compiled gaudy stats at a recent scrimmage, going an unofficial 16-for-26 with three touchdowns, albeit to along the goal line.

Tennessee brought in some high-priced free agents to improve the offense including Delanie Walker and Andy Levitre, but their chances against Pittsburgh come primarily down to a dramatic improvement in Locker’s play. Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is famous for outwitting inexperienced and underdeveloped quarterbacks — and for just being a great coordinator overall — so Titans fans seek more savvy from their signal-caller this preseason as Pittsburgh looms Week 1.

Thomas Emerick is a Senior Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEmerick, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google