What do you get when you have two offenses that are mediocre at best going against two stingy defenses? A very low-scoring ball game. Mother Nature won’t make it any easier. It will be cold and very windy with a chance of snow. Longjohns, several layers of clothing, ponchos and hot cider weather.
The Steelers offense doesn’t scare anybody. Well, maybe it would scare the Lions or Rams, but so would a lot of college offenses.
Pittsburgh is 21st in scoring and 24th in total offense. They only have a few players worthy of mention. Hines Ward is the toughest receiver in the league. It will be fun watching him go at it with Cortland Finnegan. Big Ben Roethlisberger has been a very average quarterback this year. Two-time Pro Bowl running back Fast Willie Parker has been banged up all season and is having a sub-par year. He’ll split carries with former Viking Mewelde Moore. The o-line has given up 44 sacks.
The defense is the best in the league. They’re first in scoring, in pass defense and total defense, and second in rush defense and in sacks. This is a week when the Titans are fortunate to have a veteran quarterback able to read most of Dick LeBeau’s zone-blitzing schemes. Of course, every team in the league uses some zone blitzes now, but LeBeau is the man who invented/perfected it and his Steelers are better at it than any other team.
The 3-4 defense starts with ROLB James Harrison, but it sure doesn’t end there. The Steelers have a lot of studs on their defense. Harrison has some sick numbers, with 15 sacks and seven forced fumbles. He’s a real game-changer. His counterpart on the other side, LOLB LaMarr Woodley, has 11½ sacks and two forced fumbles. Michael Roos and David Stewart will have their hands full with them.
The front three are terrific. Casey Hampton is in the same class as Kris Jenkins and Jamal Williams, the best nose tackles in the league. LDE Aaron Smith is playing at a level as high as any 3-4 defensive end this year.
Left inside linebacker James Farrior, who benefits greatly from playing behind Hampton, is a tackling machine.
Free safety Troy Polamalu (seven interceptions) anchors the secondary and LCB Ike Taylor is their best corner.
Only three of those studs were selected for the Pro Bowl this year, with Harrison and Polamalu as starters and Farrior as a reserve. The number of snubs their defense received leads the league.
Chris Johnson should get a lot more carries than LenDale White. Maybe he can break a long one. Kerry Collins may try to get him the ball on a few passes too. Collins also needs to get Bo Scaife and Alge Crumpler involved. I don’t see the Titans scoring many points, especially because of the weather. This would be a good time for the Titans to get a score off their defense or special teams.
Turnovers will be a key in this game. Tennessee is +10 and Pittsburgh is +7 in that category.