Bad news for the Titans: Albert Haynesworth has been ruled out of at least the last two games of the regular season, and possibly eliminated from the playoffs due to a knee injury he sustained in the waning minutes of the Titans-Texans game Sunday.
To add insult to injury, Kyle Vanden Bosch has also been ruled out of next Sunday's match-up against the red-hot, gritty, looking-for-the-No. 1-seed-in-the-AFC Steelers.
Could it get any worse? Sure could: with weather the way it has been recently in Nashville, it just might snow during next week's game at LP Field, and with the legions of Steelers fans that reside in the Titan's hometown this could turn out to resemble a home game on the road for the Steelers.
Make no mistake: the Titans still own the NFL's best record, and they didn't get there by playing college teams. They got there through the outstanding play of their LARGE defensive line, the great backside support of their defensive backfield, and the solid, workmanlike effort of the offense under the veteran leadership of Kerry Collins.
And they have stayed relatively healthy for the first 14 games of the season.
But now they have issues: SERIOUS issues.
Haynesworth is a beast; how many 6'6", 320 men do you know who can move like he does? He is an absolute force field on the defensive line; it's almost as if runners get close to him and bounce backwards.
Vanden Bosch is another monster. 6'4" and 245, he is a defensive end you cannot ignore. His quickness almost requires that you commit two people to block him at all times, or your quarterback will get to know him entirely too well. Just his presence causes running backs to add an extra 5-10 yards onto runs around his side of the line, if only so they don't get close enough for him to maul them.
With these two power players out of the lineup, the Titans have almost no one to turn to. Dave Ball can move inside, but he does not have the ability or reputation to occupy two offensive linemen the way Haynesworth can.
Jason Jones is a rookie DE; he'll be preoccupied trying to figure out how to get to the quarterback, and by the time he figures it out, the play will be over.
Kevin Vickerson? Out due to violations of the league's substance abuse policy.
William Hayes? Listed as inactive for the Steelers game.
Jacob Ford? He'll be pulling double duty relieving Kearse and Ball, so no way he can go inside.
With Willie Parker getting healthier every week, Mewelde Moore averaging four yards per carry, and Gary Russell ready to come in for either in relief, Pittsburgh is primed to have one of it's best rushing games of the season.
Historically, the Steelers are almost unbeatable if they have a 100-yard rusher and Roethlisberger throws for 200 or more yards. Big Ben's average yards per game during their current win streak? 236 yards, with only one game under 200.
With a 320-pound hole in their defense, this could spell D-O-O-M for the Titans.