The Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) will travel south looking for their first road win of the season when they take on the Tennessee Titans (1-4) on Thursday Night Football from LP Field in Nashville.
Tennessee is returning from a brutal two-game road trip and is in desperate need of reeling off its second home win in Week 6.
On the other side, the Steelers are back in business after disposing of in-state rival Philadelphia on a last-second field goal in Week 5.
Here we get you set with everything you need to know for Thursday's primetime AFC clash between the Steelers and Titans.
Where: LP Field, Nashville, Tenn.
When: Thursday, Oct. 11 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Watch: NFL Network
Listen: WDVE 102.5 FM (Pittsburgh), 104.5 FM The Zone (Nashville)
Live Streaming: NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line: Titans (5.5), according to Covers.com.
What's At Stake?
For the visiting Steelers, Thursday's matchup provides an opportunity to end their road woes. Pittsburgh can't start out the season 0-3 on the road, can it? A Steelers win would have the Black and Yellow back in the AFC North hunt at 3-2 and would give them a few extra days to rest before their Week 7 matchup at division rival Cincinnati.
As far as what's at stake for the Titans in Week 6, nothing less than a win will do. A defeat will send Tennessee to 1-5 heading to Buffalo in Week 7. With the Titans' starting quarterback nursing a shoulder injury, Chris Johnson averaging less than three yards-per-carry and the defense playing poorly, Tennessee can't recover from a 1-5 start.
Steelers Injury Report (according to ESPN.com)
LB LaMarr Woodley (Doubtful)
S Troy Polamalu (Out)
LB James Harrison (Probable)
RB Rashard Mendenhall (Probable)
Titans Injury Report (according to ESPN.com)
QB Jake Locker (Out)
RB Javon Ringer (Out)
LB Patrick Bailey (Questionable)
Fantasy Start 'Em, Sit 'Em and Sleeper
Start 'Em: Rashard Mendenhall, RB
I know, it's only Mendenhall's second game back after a brutal knee injury suffered late last season. But still, he rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries last weekend against a stout run-stopping crew in Philadelphia.
This week Mendenhall will be pitted against the NFL's fifth-worst rushing defense in Tennessee and should have plenty of opportunities, even on a limited number of touches, to make big plays and strike fantasy gold for some smart owners.
Sit 'Em: Chris Johnson, RB
After finally breaking through against Houston in Week 4, Titans running back Chris Johnson carried the ball 15 times for just 24 yards at the Minnesota Vikings. With the NFL's No. 11-ranked rushing defense coming to town in Week 6, you're better off sitting the struggling star.
Johnson is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry this season, but just more than a yard per attempt at home. It's been a rough season for one of the NFL's most notable fantasy producers, but don't expect it to get any smoother against Pittsburgh.
Sleeper: Heath Miller, TE
No one ever sees Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller coming, and that's why he's my sleeper pick this Thursday night. He was quiet last week against the Eagles, recording just four receptions for 41 yards in the win. Expect Miller to have his name called by the announcers much more in Week 6 though.
The veteran scored a touchdown in each of Pittsburgh's first three games this season, and has four in four games. If you have Miller on your bench make sure he get him in your starting lineup by Thursday night.
What They're Saying
Penalties hurt you in a lot of ways. They put you behind the chains. They eliminate explosion plays and limit field position. They minimize scoring opportunities.
The Steelers committed nine penalties for 106 yards in their narrow Week 5 win over the Eagles.
On the other side, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson stated this week that the struggling team in is need of a spark like the one it got from Vince Young back in 2009 (via The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt):
It is going to take somebody in this locker room to make plays, and give us that spark like Vince did that season. That spark has to come from somewhere.
Each of the Titans' four losses this season have come by at least 21 points.
Steelers Player to Watch
Fans should watch for Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown on Thursday night at Tennessee. Although Brown often flies under the radar playing alongside speedster Mike Wallace, he is actually the team's leading wideout through the season's first five weeks.
Brown leads the team with 39 targets, 25 receptions, 326 yards and five plays of 20 or more yards this season. If quarterback Ben Roethlisberger makes a big play in the passing game, expect Brown to be on the receiving end.
Titans Player to Watch
Whenever the Titans are on defense, make sure to keep an eye out for second-year linebacker Akeem Ayers. The 23-year-old ranks fourth in the NFL in total tackles after five weeks with 50, and is a rare bright spot on an otherwise terrible Tennessee defense.
The former UCLA Bruin is constantly flying around the field and makes his presence felt on each and every play. Ayers has 15 more tackles than any other Titans defender this season.
The most important matchup to watch for in Nashville will be Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck vs. the Steelers' secondary. Pittsburgh ranks third in the NFL defending the pass this season and is allowing less than 185 yards through the air per week.
Hasselbeck has been decent since taking over for the injured Jake Locker, but has an interception to every touchdown pass, and is only averaging 5.5 yards per attempt. Unless Hasselbeck can recapture his youth on Thursday and take the lid of the Steelers' defense, the Titans will be in loads of trouble offensively.
On the Hot Seat
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak has been with the franchise since 1994 when it was the Houston Oilers. A former Oilers player, Munchak took over for Jeff Fisher after the 2010 season, but has since gone 10-11 as head coach.
No one has been more loyal to the Titans organization than Munchak, but if he can't get a competitive performance from his players at home on Thursday night, he'll feel his seat heating up just one year after leading Tennessee to a 9-7 record.
The Titans sport a -93 scoring differential through five weeks of the season, and have looked pitiful on both sides of the ball over the last two weeks. Meanwhile, the Steelers have had not one, but two wake-up calls early in the season on the road. I expect Pittsburgh to control the pace of the game from start to finish and earn a tough road win.
Steelers 23, Titans 13
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