Wednesday, October 5, 2011

JZN NFL Predictions vs. Spread: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 5, 2011-12)

The Tennessee Titans have won three consecutive games after a rocky start to the Mike Munchak era. The Pittsburgh Steelers have won two consecutive games against their former division foe. Are the Titans for real?

The early spread on this game is Steelers (-3). Here are some of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for when betting. All lines from Cooper's Pick and Injury Reports from CBS Sports as of October 5, 2011. Always update yourselves with injury lines because they’ll change throughout the week.

Current Personal Picks Record (Straights Only)
Pittsburgh Steelers 2-2
Tennessee Titans 2-2

Key Injuries
RB Rashard Mendenhall, LB James Harrison (Out), DE Aaron Smith (Out), C Doug Legursky, OT Jonathan Scott, DE Brett Keisel, CB Bryant McFadden, LB Gerald McRath

Keys to the Game
  • Can the Titans avoid turnovers? They had 7 giveaways in the 2010 meeting
  • Will the Pittsburgh run defense or Chris Johnson break free from their early-season slump?
  • Can the Titans contain Mike Wallace?
  • Ben Roethlisberger or Charlie Batch?
  • Can the Steelers protect Roethlisberger
  • The Titans are 2-0 against AFC North teams. The Steelers are 1-1 against AFC South teams.
  • Superstitions: Are the Steelers and the city of Pittsburgh under a curse?
  • Can the Steelers avoid turnovers? They’re currently 32nd in turnover ratio (-10)
Summary
I’m a bit biased as the Titans are my AFC rooting interest (Packers my overall rooting interest). However, I’m impressed with the Titans’ defense this season. They haven’t allowed more than 16 points in any game this season. They're tied with the Cincinnati Bengals with allowing the fewest yards per play (4.4).

The Steelers defeated the Titans 19-11 in Nashville last season. That was during Roethlisberger’s suspension. The Titans had 7 giveaways in this game. They scored a garbage touchdown in the final minute. Basically, the score was 19-3. The Steelers only touchdown occurred on the opening kickoff. The Steelers also won 13-10 in 2009.

The Steelers are hurting. The offensive line has been decimated with injuries. Ben Roethlisberger will probably play on a bum foot. Their biggest problem could be that their run defense is surrendering nearly 120 yards per game, five yards per carry.  They’ve always relied on a top-five run defense. They’re not even in the top twenty after four games.



I’m rolling with the Titans in my upset pick of the week. The key to this game will be turnovers. I actually have more confidence with Hasselbeck making smart plays. Roethlisberger’s turnovers have often put the Steelers in uncomfortable situations. Just think back to how he basically gave the Indianapolis Colts 13 points when they were facing Kerry Collins. That game was basically over at 10-0 before he pulled those shenanigans.  

Here’s another tidbit of information for those who believe in superstitions (e.g. Madden curse). A local sports talk host in Nashville, Tennessee (Clay Travis) put a “Tongue-In-Cheek curse” on the Steelers before Super Bowl XLV. The Steelers have gone 2-3 since then. Sidney Crosby is still trying to recover from a concussion after nearly one year. The Pittsburgh Panthers wasted their No. 1 seed with one of the flukiest penalties in sports history. The Pittsburgh Pirates gave their fans postseason dreams before imploding after the July trading deadline.

FWIW.

Final Predictions:
Against the Spread: Tennessee Titans (+3)
Straight: -Tennessee Titans 17, Pittsburgh Steelers 16

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