This is the Steel City Blitz Three-Point Stance. Your quick-hitting reference guide to everything you need to know about the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans in this week 7 matchup. The TPS is sponsored by Gryffin the King!
What: Pittsburgh Steelers 5-0 at Tennessee Titans 5-0
Where: Nissan Stadium Nashville, Tennessee
When: 1pmET October 25, 2020
Weather: Cloudy and 64 degrees. Slight chance of rain
Line: Titans -1.5 O/U 51
Last Week: Tennessee needed overtime to defeat the Houston Texans 42-26 while the Steelers trounced the Cleveland Browns 38-7.
TV: CBS Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Charles Davis (analysis), Evan Washburn (sideline reporter)
TV Coverage in Your Area: courtesy the506.com.
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley and Missi Matthews on the sidelines.
Head Official: Shawn Hochuli. This is Hochuli’s third season as a head referee. He is the son of former referee Ed Hochuli. Last season he officiated the Steelers’ 16-10 loss to the New York Jets in Week 16. There were seven total accepted penalties in that game. Oddly enough he did not have any Steelers’ games during his first year as a referee.
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: CB Mike Hilton (Shoulder) – Out
FB Derek Watt (Hamstring) – Out TEN: None (Starting tackle Taylor Lewan went to IR this week with a torn ACL)
2019 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 15th TEN 7th Passing Offense: PIT 28th TEN 20th Rushing Offense: PIT 13th TEN 8th
Total Defense: PIT 1st TEN 12th Passing Defense: PIT 1st TEN 17th Rushing Defense: PIT 1st TEN 18th
AFC North Rankings: Pittsburgh 5-0, Baltimore 5-1, Cleveland 4-2, Cincinnati 1-4-1
This Week in the AFC North: Cleveland at Cincinnati 1pm, Baltimore BYE
What You Need to Know: The Steelers have 305 sacks dating back to 2014 which is 31 more than the second place team… Minkah Fitzpatrick has more takeaways (9) than any other player dating back to the start of 2019… Pittsburgh has won four of five coin tosses this season… The Steelers have out-rushed their opponents in all five games this season… The Black and Gold have won five of their last seven games against the Titans dating back to 2009…
Tennessee Titans Names to Know: RB Derrick Henry, QB Ryan Tannehill, WR Corey Davis, TE Jonnu Smith, DE Jadeveon Clowney, WR A.J. Brown, K Stephen Gostkowski, WR Adam Humphries
What’s at Stake: It’s still early but a loss here puts the loser behind the 8-ball in terms of gaining home-field advantage and the all important number one seed. Keep in mind that only the top seed receives a BYE now in the postseason. Each of the teams had their BYE week in week four so a week off after such a long run of games would be most important.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 46-32; Titans lead 20-19 at home
Last Meeting: November 2017, Steelers 40 Titans 17
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Stop Before He Starts. If you stop a snowball rolling downhill as it starts, it’s fairly easy. If you try to stop it once it’s halfway down the mountain then let me just say, “good luck with that.” The same principle holds true with Titans’ running back Derrick Henry. If the Steelers allow him to get up to speed and into the second level then they’re in trouble. They have to get to him before he can gain any momentum. The good news here is that the Steelers lead the league in tackles for loss which means they are getting the penetration necessary to disrupt teams from running the ball well. What Keith Butler has to be cautious of is screen passes and delays that try to bait his defense up field too quickly. Stopping Henry and getting a lead changes the entire plan for the Titans on offense.
Speaking of Getting a Lead. There are some games where getting out to an early lead is no big deal. There are other games like this one Sunday where getting out to a two-score lead could be paramount to the Steelers’ success. If Tennessee is consistently playing catch-up then that works in the Steelers’ favor. It forces the to abandon the run quicker puts more pressure on Ryan Tannehill to have make plays. I don’t think Randy Fichtner will change up much from what he’s been doing which is find balance and establish a running game. But… Don’t be surprised if Big Ben takes a few deep shots to get his team out front early.
Win the Individual Matchups: Every week in the NFL, games often come down to various one-on-one matchups. This week will be no different but due to injuries, some of these are under the microscope even more. Mike Hilton is out, which means Keith Butler will look to Cam Sutton to fill that role. How will he handle covering those slot receivers and tight ends? Can he support the run as well as Hilton does? Next up is Robert Spillane who must build on his two quarters of solid work against a much different animal. Can he take on those lead blockers for Derrick Henry? Can he hang with Jonnu Smith in coverage? Offensively, pay special attention to those wide receiving matchups. Ben Roethlisberger has his full compliment of receivers back with the return of Diontae Johnson so look for Big Ben to expose the mismatches.
Prediction: Ryan Tannehill is a much better quarterback now than he was in Miami. That said, if he doesn’t have Henry running the ball consistently well then he’s in trouble against the Steelers’ pass rush. That’s exactly the gameplan Keith Butler typically deploys week to week but Sunday it will carry extra significance. Don’t be surprised if the Steelers find success offensively. The Tennessee defense is good, but they’re giving up a lot of points and they haven’t seen an offense this dynamic yet. Pittsburgh hits the road for the very first time since week one so that’ll be a different feel for the Black and Gold but I just have a feeling this goes our way.
Steelers 26 Titans 20
Season Prediction Record: 5-0