TV Schedule: Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Stadium: Heinz Field
Weather: Low 61, High 80
Line: Pittsburgh (-7.5)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a disappointing 8-8 finish in 2012 while finishing the season with a string of losses that ended up being the difference between a division title and missing out on the postseason. Ben Roethlisberger had a tough time staying healthy last season, but with a seemingly successful offseason, he could end up with one of his best seasons in the NFL. After a rocky season in which he missed three games, he finished with 3,265 yards and 26 touchdowns while only throwing eight interceptions. Losing wide out Mike Wallace will be a tough blow to the offense while Antonio Brown will likely become the top target. Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell is also out over a month due to lisfranc injury and that will surely hurt the run game that was already poor last season.
On the other side of the field, the Tennessee Titans are backing third-year player and second-year starter Jake Locker at quarterback. Locker started 11 games in 2012, finishing with 2,176 yards, 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He will need a ton of improvement in order to give the Titans a fighting chance in 2013. Wide receivers Nate Washington, Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright will surely give Locker the best chance of succeeding this season while Chris Johnson is coming off his fifth straight 1,000-yard rushing season — he will be able to take the pressure off the young QB.
Defensively, the Tennessee Titans allowed nearly 30 points and 375 yards per game in 2012. Newly-acquired safety Bernard Pollard should help out in the pass game while still being able to plug holes in the run game if need be. Rookie linebacker Zach Brown had 93 tackles last season and will look to be a leader on defense in his second season. The Steelers had the No. 1 defense in 2012, allowing just 19.6 points and 275 yards per game. They should be even better this season with a healthy Troy Palumalu and a solid group of linebackers.
PREDICTION: Titans 21, Steelers 35
Related: Pittsburgh Preview