Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gameday: Tennessee Titans

LP Field
TV: NFL Network, The CW locally
Radio: WDVE and other affiliates

First things first, with the Vice Presidential Debate covering most of the major TV networks, you won't be able to find the Steelers game on KDKA in the Pittsburgh market. Your options are either NFL Network or The CW, which is most likely channel 19 if you're in the Pittsburgh area. On FioS, the HD channel is 503.

What To Watch For

1. The Back End

With Troy Polamalu re-aggravating his calf injury, the Steelers will be strapped on the back end of the defense once again. Ryan Mundy hasn't been great and has picked up two personal foul penalties over the last two games. There was some talk this week if Will Allen might see some time at safety if Mundy struggles. The Titans do have an athletic tight end in Jared Cook who presents a matchup problem for almost anyone. Titans receiver

2. Class of 2008 Backs

They have taken very different roads to get here, but Rashard Mendenhall and Chris Johnson got their starts as the 23rd and 24th picks in the 2008 NFL Draft. Mendenhall is coming off a torn ACL and while Johnson has never been seriously injured, he is far from his Pro Bowl self when he ran for 2000 yards in 2009. Johnson is a home run hitter and can take any run to the house, so the Steelers will have to stick to their gaps. They have succeeded in the past by being physical with Johnson and laying their licks early in the game. Mendenhall rushed for 81 yards in his 2012 debut and looks to build on that against a mediocre Titans run defense.

3. Move Over Bradshaw

At least for the moment, Terry Bradshaw is still the franchise's all-time leading passer with 12, 989 yards. Ben Roethlisberger enters tonight's game with a chance to surpass Terry if he can put up 280 yards through the air. Interestingly enough, Tennessee has averaged 279 pass yards against this season. The Steelers certainly have the weapons to throw the ball all over the yard against Tennessee, and it would be great to see Ben surpass the mark on national television.

4. Pressure, Pressure, Pressure

Jake Locker has been ruled out for the game, so Matt Hasselbeck will be the Titans starting quarterback. Hasselbeck is getting up there in years but he can still get it done and he has the weapons on the outside in Kenny Britt, former Steeler Nate Washington, and first round pick Kendall Wright to make some noise through the air. Hasselbeck is not immune to turnovers and he will force some throws if the Steelers can get pressure on him. The short turnaround does not make things easy, particularly with LaMarr Woodley going out, but Jason Worlids should be fully healed and he has the opportunity to shine. James Harrison played a heck of a game against Philadelphia, playing the entire game and being a disruptive force against both the run and pass. He will need to continue to press the pocket and get in Hasselbeck's face to help out the guys in the back. In the two games we won, we got consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback. In the two we lost, Manning and Palmer were able to sit back and have all day to throw.

5. Turn Back the Clocks

As I've talked about quite often this year, the Steelers have a dismal record when travelling outside the Eastern Time Zone. This is a relatively short trip (distance wise) to Nashville, but they still have to make the adjustment on their watches. Upon further investigation, I did conclude that time zone mattered more than distance when looking at the Steelers road record. Now, the one positive on this front is that under Mike Tomlin, the Steelers have about a 33% winning percentage outside the Eastern Time Zone. They have lost their last four games outside of EST, so the odds would say they're due for a win.

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