The Titans began the season on a promising note, winning 26-10 and covering as 3-point road dogs at Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs. That promise came to a screeching halt in Week 2 as the Titans now sit 2-7 straight up and 2-6-1 against the spread.
Meanwhile, the Steelers will look to put a dismal performance against the New York Jets behind them and get back into the win columns on national television Monday.
Most shops opened the Steelers as 5-point road favorites for the game, but that has since moved to -6.
In order to get a grasp on the matchup, we’ve enlisted the help of those who know these teams the best. Expert NFL bloggers Neal Coolong of Pittsburgh blog Behind the Steel Curtain and Jimmy Morris of Tennessee blog Music City Miracles strap on the pads to debate not just who wins, but which team will cover the spread.
WHY PITTSBURGH WILL COVER
Neal Coolong writes for Behind the Steel Curtain. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @BTSteelCurtain.
Get back to the run
It’s the perfect opponent for the Steelers to take out their frustrations after last week’s painful loss. The Titans are seemingly incapable of stopping the run, and the Steelers need to establish a strong ground attack. They’ve slumped the last few weeks, and unlike the Jets (great run defensive personnel), the Titans have a soft defensive front outside Jurrell Casey. Pittsburgh used to average over 130 yards a game this year, they’re going to get back to that this week.
Flipping the field, the Steelers are 18-2 facing rookie quarterbacks since Dick LeBeau assumed the Steelers defensive coordinator job in 2004 – and many of those rookies are a lot better than Titans’ rookie Zach Mettenberger. The strong-armed but confused rookie is slow to release the ball, he isn’t recognizing coverages and he’s really not playing winning football. That’s blood in Dick LeBeau’s defensive waters. He will confuse him, he will batter him and Mettenberger will turn the ball over a few times in this game.
Ready for primetime players
Let’s add in the three primetime games the Steelers have played since falling in Week 2 to Baltimore; a 37-19 slaughter of the Carolina Panthers, a 30-23 not-as-close-as-the-score-suggests whipping of the Houston Texans and a 43-23 thrashing of the Ravens. Are the Titans better than those teams? Not really. Not at all. Add in a week’s worth of practices after suffering the embarrassing loss to the Jets, consider the Steelers’ perfectly motivated to help offensive line coach Mike Munchak exact revenge on the only franchise for whom he’s ever played or coached. They’ll be ready and they’ll dominate this game.
WHY TENNESSEE WILL COVER
Jimmy Morris writes for Music City Miracles. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @TitansMCM.
The Mettenberger Effect
Two games ago the Titans made the switch to Zach Mettenberger. The results have been mixed through those two games, but The Mett Show is ready for his first prime time game. The Steelers are giving up 239 yards per game through the air. The Titans have some weapons that will be able to get open down the field, and Mettenberger has the arm to challenge Pittsburgh down the field. Look for some big plays from the Titans early in the game.
Titans cornerback Jason McCourty is having a really good year matching up with the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver. He hasn’t allowed a touchdown this season, and he has faced guys like Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, DeSean Jackson, and Andre Johnson. He will be matched up on Antonio Brown in this game. Brown is the key to the Steelers passing game, and McCourty will be able to take him away.
The Titans and the Steelers always play close games. The Titans are a 7 point home underdog in this game. With McCourty having the ability to lock down Brown, the Steelers will have trouble moving the football. That plays into the Titans hands because they need this game to be low scoring to have their best chance to win. Look for the game to be decided on a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Join the debate: Which team covers on Monday Night Football – Pittsburgh or Tennessee?