Thursday night football games benefit no one, especially not the players.
This one between the Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers is no different, pitting two AFC opponents against each other after a mere three days of rest. But the Steelers will own a huge advantage due to the Titans' glaring deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball.
Both will have banged-up players on both sides. Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley won't play for the Steelers and Kenny Britt and Jake Locker are hobbled for the Titans.
However, the Steelers will still take it to the Titans simply because the Titans have been absolutely terrible this season.
There are a myriad of reasons why the Titans will lose this game but the three that stand out are as follows:
Rashard Mendenhall is back
Coming off the dreaded ACL surgery, Mendenhall came back last week against a very solid Philadelphia Eagles defense. He showed a quick burst in running for 68 yards on 13 carries. He even caught three balls for a touchdown.
Safe to say Mendenhall will be a strong upgrade. The Titans' run defense ranks fifth worst in the NFL, allowing 144.2 yards a game, so there will be plenty of room for him to run.
And if somehow he doesn't? Well there is always the guy handing him the ball.
Ben Roethlisberger is better than ever
New offensive coordinator Todd Haley has installed a new offense that actually allows Ben Roethlisberger to pass the ball, and Big Ben has excelled.
Even though his completion percentage is 65.6 percent, not that much higher from his career average of 63.2, he has thrown only one interception.
He is also one of the best—if not the best—third-down passer in all of football. That's in large part due to his ability to extend plays; linebackers and lineman repeatedly fail to bring him down because he is either too big or too mobile for them to wrap up.
He also has all sorts of weapons including the shifty Antonio Brown, the old mainstay Heath Miller and Mike Wallace, one of the top deep threats in the league.
Remember how we said the Titans own a terrible run defense? Hardly better is their 25th-ranked pass defense, which allows teams to complete 74.6 percent of their passes. Not even Kim Kardashian can cultivate that type of success rate.
Let's put that into perspective Matt Ryan, who arguably is the NFL's MVP so far in 2012, is completing 68.6 percent of his passes and has thrown 13 touchdowns. The Titans have allowed 12. So does every quarterback that faces the Titans automatically turn into Matty Ice? No, but let's just say Ben Roethlisberger and company should have no issues running them around in circles.
Terrible Titans offense
The Titans offense has struggled mightily this year. It is "led" by running back Chris Johnson, who probably can't run through a plastic sheeted wall, and a quarterback who might actually have a weaker arm that Ryan Fitzpatrick. It also doesn't help that their most talented wide receiver Kenny Britt has been playing through injuries all year.
The Steelers, despite injuries on the defensive side of the ball, should have no problems blitzing and creating turnovers, setting up their offense deep in Titan territory. The Steelers go into the game having created just five turnovers, but they should be able to pad their takeaway numbers against an anemic Tennessee attack.
Conclusion: Steelers need to take care of business
Having said all this...it is a Thursday night football game and this is the NFL. Look what the New York Jets did to the Houston Texans this past Monday in nearly upsetting them on the national stage. Anything can happen on any given Thursday, blah blah blah.
What won't happen is the Titan defense stopping anyone.