Will Levis and the Tennessee Titans are in Pittsburgh tonight to take on the Steelers! After a terrific debut last week against the Falcons, Levis will look to find some more magic in a very hostile environment. The home side Steelers are currently three-point favorites, while the over/under is set at just 36.5 points. The Titans and Steelers are both unpredictable teams that find ways to stay relevant in the AFC, giving us a very interesting matchup to start Week 9.
If Levis really is the guy we saw last week, the 3-4 Titans might be making a second-half push in the AFC playoff race. However, getting it done against Mike Tomlin’s Steelers in Pittsburgh will be much harder than at home against the Falcons. The over/under is the lowest for a Thursday Night game we’ve seen this year, so clearly the public also has their doubts on how well either one of these offences will move the ball. Given the challenge his team is up against offensively, Mike Vrabel should be making sure that DeAndre Hopkins and Derrick Henry play big roles tonight. Hopkins caught three of Levis’ four touchdowns last week and is easily the Titans’ best receiver, while Henry is a force on the ground that not many teams can slow down.
Defensively, the Titans will play just their second game without the services of safety Kevin Byard. The two-time All Pro was traded to Philadelphia last week, and his presence will certainly be missed in the secondary. Thankfully, the Steelers aren’t exactly the most explosive offence in the NFL. They have looked better since WR Diontae Johnson’s return from injury, but Kenny Pickett is yet to prove he can take over a game in the NFL. Johnson and George Pickens should be Tennesse’s focus today, because their tough run stoppers should be able to do well against Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren on the ground.
On the other sideline, the Steelers will be looking to get to 5-3 and remain less than two games behind Baltimore in the race for the AFC North title. Despite the winning record, Pittsburgh’s offence has been an issue this year, ranking 29th and 30th in points and yards respectively. Kenny Pickett will start after being taken out of last week’s game with an injury, and he’ll probably be asked to throw the ball quite a bit against a tough Tennessee defence. As we mentioned above, getting the ball to Diontae Johnson and George Pickens should be the priority tonight. The two receivers are easily the most talented weapons on this offence, and if they aren’t getting the ball, the Steelers really struggle to move downfield.
When Tennessee has the ball, expect to see Pittsburgh try to make life hell for Will Levis. The rookie has a great arm, but it’ll be very interesting to see how he fares with a guy like T.J. Watt breathing down his neck all game. Levis can certainly beat teams with the deep ball, so expect Pittsburgh to be okay with giving up the short stuff as long as they’re not getting beat over the top. Outside of Levis, it’ll be all about stopping Derrick Henry. The superstar runner may be slowing down slightly this year, but he’s still an absolute problem for defenses. If Pittsburgh lets him get off to a good start tonight, he could be the difference in the game.
Titans and Steelers – The Pick
Tonight’s tilt between the Titans and Steelers is a toss-up. Both teams have looked great and terrible at different points this season, and it’s so hard to know which version you’ll get on any given night. Pittsburgh’s biggest advantage may lie in the fact that they’re playing against a rookie quarterback making his first ever start away from home. It’s not a ton to go on, but I’ll take the Steelers to cover the three-point spread in a low-scoring, grind of a game.
Love the NFL? Create your pool any time during the season at http://officepools.com!