NFL Football Betting Preview
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers
Thursday, September 10th 8:30PM Eastern
Betus.com betting line – Pittsburgh -6, 34.5 O/U
The defending Super Bowl Champions known as the Pittsburgh Steelers will step on the field for the first time this season to defend their crown against another AFC powerhouse in the Tennessee Titans Thursday night. The Steelers won their record 6th Super Bowl last year and will have the luxury of hosting the site of the NFL’s first game of the season when the Titans come rolling into town. Tennessee also had a big year in 2008 with a perfect 10-0 start as the surprise team of the year. The Titans stumbled slightly down the stretch while suffering a disappointing loss to the Ravens in the first round of the postseason. However, both teams are back to build off last year’s campaign and should provide a brilliant opening grudge match this Thursday night.
The game will feature two of the best defensive teams in the league. Of course the Steelers defense put up some of the best all around number in the last decade in 2008. Pittsburgh ranked first in every major defensive category outside of rushing yards allowed where they finished a respectable 3rd in that particular category. The Steelers juggernaut defense held teams to just 237 yards per game while allowing a mere 13.9 points per game on the season. The ferocious defense will be back again this season and with the majority of the same guys intact don’t expect offenses to see a whole heap of success against the Steelers defense again in 2009.
Although, the offense still holds some concerns. The Steelers were not an overpowering offense in last year’s Championship season, but they moved the ball and scored just enough points at the right times. Willie Parker did not have the success the Steelers desired on the ground. Parker rushed for 3 straight seasons over 1,200 yards before a dismal 791 yards last season as the Steelers fell from 3rd in rush offense in 2007 to 23rd in the league. Considering how well the defense continues to play, if the running game could get back on track they would be unstoppable with that type of ball control. QB Ben Roethlisberger made some big plays last year especially in a few game winning drives towards the end of the year. However, with Big Ben interceptions always seem to loom overhead. Going back to the ball control game, if the Steelers do not force turnovers they will be very tough to beat. Still, the Pittsburgh offense would love to score more points this year to become an even stronger all around team.
Tennessee had very similar success in the same way last season. The Titans strong defense and ball control type play was a big reason they were among the biggest surprises in the NFL. Tailback Chris Johnson definitely helped things racking up over 1,200 yards on the ground to go along with 9 touchdowns. The power running threat of LenDale White made things even tougher for opposing defenses. White tallied in an additional 773 yards and 15 more touchdowns. The improved running game was perhaps the biggest key to the Titans success. Veteran quarterback Kerry Collins was fairly effective through the air even though the numbers posted were not very impressive. Collins threw for just 2,676 yards with 12 touchdowns and 7 picks on the season. However, the Titans did not have to throw the ball very often due to their running success. Also, the defense kept the offense at ease with their stellar play as well. The Titans defense ranked 7th in yards allowed, but were nearly the best in the NFL ranking 2nd in scoring defense holding opponents to just a little over 14 points per game.
However, the Titans lost the anchor to the defense over the off-season in DT Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth is without a doubt the best DT in the NFL and perhaps the best in the league has seen for a few years. Haynesworth parted ways after being franchised by Tennessee in 2008 to find a home in Washington. The Titans defensive front will now face a big task picking up the slack among the front four. The question marks surrounding if the defense will be as good as 2008 is the main reason many expect Tennessee to take a step back this season. However, they will still be a solid group on the defensive side of the ball, but will they get the sacks and pressure up front without two offensive tackles doubling on Haynesworth this season? The Titans may have the running power not only to contend this season but try and take down the defending champs this Thursday night. Look for a low scoring defensive grudge match that could be won on 1 or 2 big plays. The question is who will make those big plays?
Pick – The Steelers should be able have enough success on offense to control the tempo of the game. Their defense will not take any steps back like the Titans may experience and they will again win the game for the Steelers. Take Pittsburgh -6