Pre Game Gab: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers, Week One

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Pre Game Gab: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers, Week One
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

With only three days to the NFL season officially kicks off with the Tennessee Titans visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers to open the season on Thursday night, Pittsburgh Blitz takes a look at the matchup and breaks it down with a prediction of who will be the victor.

In last season's late matchup, the Steelers traveled to Nashville to face the mighty Titans and fell flat on their faces as several key turnovers would pace the Titans to a 31-14 victory and allow for the Titans stomping of the "Terrible Towel" after the game.

Titans linebacker and defensive captain Keith Bulluck got hold of one, as did Tennessee running back LenDale White, and they stomped on them. Showing the ultimate disrespect to the eventual six-time Super Bowl Champions.

That was then and this is now.

Both teams open the 2009 season with one thing on their minds and that is to get out of the gates fast with a victory. The Steelers have a little added reason for revenge though as they look to avenge the towel's honor that we as Steelers fans have come to adore.

The Titans "LenWhale" White has added fuel to the fire that already burns in the Burgh by opening mouth and inserting foot with his comments last week. Giving the Steelers even more bulletin board material. As if they need it.

Now not only do the Steelers have pride to play for, they have a whale to set their sights on and harpoon.

Two of the top teams from last year will kickoff the 2009 season. The Titans looking to prove their loss to the Ratbirds in the playoffs was a fluke and the Steelers looking to bring down moby dick and his merry stomping buddies.

This game could truly be a classic in the mix and should not disappoint the Steelers, Titans, or any average NFL fan that will be on hand.

 

The Steelers Five Keys to Victory

1. Protect Big Ben—In last season's loss, the Steelers could not seem to stop the Titans pass rush and Big Ben was forced to run for his life most of the game and the result was a pair of INTs and several fumbles by the two-time Super Bowl Champ, Roethlisberger.

As all Steelers fans know, this line is not what it once was. But the Steelers offensive line must find away to give their QB time to find open receivers. The line needs to perform well in both pass and run blocking. If Ben can stay on his feet during the game and has any time at all, he should be able to put up enough points via the passing game to help his team win.

 

2. Establish the run—The duo of Willy Parker and Rashard Mendenhall need the offensive line to open holes in the run game and take advantage of the gaps created.

The Steelers passing game is predicated off the run and to be successful in one aspect, both need to be clicking on all cylinders. Neither needs to gain 100+ yards, but both need to be effective with the rock in their hands.

Short yardage, red zone and blitz pickup will be important aspects in this game and both running backs need to handle their business.

 

3. Get after Kerry Collins—James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley will need to pick up where they left off last season, as will the defense as a whole. Their personal competition with one another must start week one and continue through the final game of the season.

The Titans are a run-first team, but if the Steelers can control Collins and that air attack, it will slow down the Titans two-headed monster on the ground. I look for two sacks out of Woodley and Harrison to add one of his own.

 

4. Contain the run—The Titans have two solid running backs in last year's rookie sensation Chris Johnson and the big mouth whale of a man, LenDale White.

A major key to this game will be to contain them both and in the process smack LenWhale around for his disrespect of the "Terrible Towel" after last season's loss.

If the Steelers can keep the Titans runners to minimal gains on early downs, it will open things up for the pass rush and force the Titans to become one dimensional.

 

5. Win the field position battles—Last season, the Steelers were poor on special teams in many aspects. Their punter missed the entire season with an injury and they were forced to use short yardage type running backs as their returners.

Skip ahead to this year and if the preseason is any indication, they have only gotten better. With the addition of Stefan Logan as their return specialist and the return of punter Daniel Sepulveda from injury, the Steelers have turned what was once a weakness into what could be something special.

I look for Logan to have a big day both in the punt and kick return aspects and if he does, the Steelers will have fulfilled this key to a victory.

Nothing is a given in the NFL. On any given Sunday a team can win or lose a game in the blink of an eye.

This game is no different.

Both teams have solid defense's and decent offensive units. On paper, the Steelers have the better offense, but paper does not transfer to the field, only the actions of the players listed on such said paper does.

With that said, look for the Steelers to be fired up and out for revenge. Not only was their towel molested after last season's loss, but the pride of the men who make up the Pittsburgh Steelers was bruised. This game won't be pretty but in the end I predict a Steelers win. Not only do I predict a Steelers win, but a BIG win.

Steelers over the Titans 28-10

 

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