Tennessee Titans (6-3 SU, 3-5-1 TS, 6-3 O/U) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS, 1-8 O/U)
Line: Pittsburgh -7
Pittsburgh edged Indianapolis on the road, 20-17. The only time they led was as time expired thanks to a game-winning field goal from Chris Bowell. Tennessee also had to come back to defeat Cincinnati at home, 24-20. These AFC rivals face each other on Thursday night at 8:25pmET.
Mariota is getting healthy
Marcus Mariota is the new breed of quarterback. He’s not a dual-threat quarterback but he can be when needed. He has the size to hang back in the pocket but he can evade the rush with his speed. A hamstring injury slowed him down early but it appears he’s back at close to 100%. The Titans didn’t play particularly well against Cincinnati, a team that has been struggling. They were up in the first half, 17-14 after a Ryan Succop 44-yard field goal. But both offenses struggled in the second half until Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green down the middle and he broke a tackle, while rushing the rest of the way for a 70-yard touchdown with 5:03 left in the game. But Mariota, who has great poise, was able to put his team in position for the game-winner with 12-play, 73-yard drive. He hit running back DeMarco Murray for a 7-yard touchdown pass with 36 seconds left and that put the Titans at 6-3, tied with Jacksonville for the AFC South lead.
The win gave Tennessee their first four-game winning streak since 2009. The Titans are led by Murray (433 yards rushing) and wide receiver Rishard Matthews (513 yards receiving. Mariota, who missed two games due to the hamstring injury, is putting up average numbers with 1,783 passing yards, seven TDs and six picks.
On the season, they are sixth on defense against the run (91.9ypg) and seven in rushing offense (124.8ypg). However, the passing game lacks a home run threat or a number one target (203.9ypg for 28th).
Steelers find a way on the road
Pittsburgh is on their way to cruising past Baltimore and Cincinnati to win another AFC North title. The better news is that they’ll likely be hosting a playoff game or two. That’s a good thing because the Steelers usually struggle on the road and tend to play down to their competition. That certainly happened against Indy and Chicago (23-17ot) loss but not against Kansas City on Oct. 15 (19-13 win). The Colts were the better team in this one for most of the game but not when it counted. With 12:46 left in the third quarter, the Colts were up 17-3 on a 61-yard pass from Jacoby Brissett to Chester Rogers on a broken coverage.
Things like that happen to the Steelers on the road but they have so many weapons, they can bounce back. Ben Roethlisberger hit rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 7-yard pass to cut the lead to 17-9 when the extra point was missed. A late interception from Brissett allowed the Steelers to tie the game on a pass from Roethlisberger to a wide open tight end Vance McDonald (and the two-point conversion to Martavis Bryant). Roethlisberger drove the Steelers down the field for the game-winner from Boswell.
The Steelers have been outstanding on defense this season, but will lose CB Joe Haden for several weeks due to a broken fibula. They rank second in the NFL overall (284.4ypg), second in points allowed (16.4ppg) and second against the pass (181.8ypg).
- 0-3-1 ATS last 4 in November.
- 11-37-4 ATS last 52 vs. AFC.
- 4-0-1 ATS last 5 after an ATS loss.
Have to go with the home team on Thursday night. Mariota is also dealing with a shoulder injury along with his hamstring. The Steelers will be focused for this one at home on Thursday night.
Pittsburgh’s defense has been stellar lately as they’ve allowed 20 or less points in four straight games. However, this is Thursday night, where wacky things happen. The Steelers also lost cornerback Joe Haden to broken fibula so the Titans should be able to exploit that loss. The Steelers, with all their weapons, have not sore over 30 points all season. They are due. Tennessee is 5-1 Over last 6 after a SU win and 8-3 Over against Pittsburgh on the road in their last 11 meetings.