The Steelers begin the defense of their title with a home game against Tennessee, one of the biggest surprises of the season, and it should be a hard-hitting game on both sides of the ball.
Titans vs Steelers odds – Thursday, September 10, 8:30 PM ET
The Titans are rolling into the regular season with Kerry Collins at quarterback, but don’t be surprised to see Vince Young at some point this season as he had a very good camp and looks to be past the issues that plagued him in 2008.
They still have one of the best running-back duos in the league in Chris Johnson and LenDale White, but the Titans need receivers Nate Washington, a former Steeler, and Kenny Britt to be productive and open up the offense.
However, Washington may miss his reunion with his former team with a hamstring injury.
Defensively, the Titans lost Albert Haynesworth to Washington, which will hurt their interior defense as well as their online betting chances.
The Steelers have 19 of their 22 starters back from last year, which makes them one of the favorites, especially with the fourth-easiest schedule in the league.
Ben Roethlisberger leads an attack that is bolstered by a healthy Rashard Mendenhall, who will look to push Willie Parker in the backfield.
Limas Sweed should be able to slot into the No. 3 receiving spot held by Washington last year.
The defense is just as it was last year, minus corner Bryant McFadden to Arizona, and it’s led by the best group of linebackers in the league.
Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison is a menace, and safety Troy Polamalu may only be getting better after six seasons in the league.
Betting services have the Steelers as a 6-point favorite in this contest, and they’ve won two of their last three games at Heinz Field against the Titans, including a 34-7 rout in 2005.
The key to this will be Tennessee’s run defense, and whether or not the loss of Haynesworth will hurt them.
We’re figuring that the Steelers, who are deep at running back, will test this theory, and if they can get a lead, that forces Collins to try and make plays, which suits Pittsburgh just fine.
Go with the Steelers in your NFL picks on Thursday.