Are you looking for a high octane shootout in the NFL this week, with plenty of high flying circus catches and 60 yard touchdown gallops after every commercial?
If so, I recommend staying away from watching the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Tennessee Titans this Sunday. Only the most die hard of fans will be able stomach watching these two rickety offenses limp through each of these teams stellar defenses.
The 12-2 Titans and 11-3 Steelers are meeting at an important crossroad in both of their seasons as they square off in Tennessess's own Music City. Should the Titans win they will take control of the coveted No. 1 seed in the playoffs, keeping home field advantage throughout January.
The same can also be said for the Steelers, although technically they will have to beat the bungling Browns the week after to officially lock the No. 1 seed up. One thing is for sure though: Sunday will be a display of the AFC's finest two teams and the two with the best chance of representing their conference in the Super Bowl in February.
Another sure thing is that this whole week Ben Rothlisberger has been carrying a plethora of rabbit ears, shamrocks, and horseshoes on him at all times while also attending church regulary and making damned sure to knock on wood after every word that comes out of his mouth.
Yes, Big Ben lucked out big time this week when The Titan's announced that both Albert Haynesworth AND Kyle Vanden Bosch will not be playing in Sunday's game.
How big of a deal is this, you may ask? (All Stats are from the Titans last three seasons.)
With Albert Haynesworth: 28-10
With AH: 103 ypg
without: 141 ypg
With AH: 17
Ouch. Couple that with the absence of run-stuffing DE KVB and you can actually here the Steelers O-Line breath a sigh of relief. Although it is a rare occurrence, Big Ben's QB rating is over 90 when taking two or less sacks in a game.
More importantly, Willie Parker and Mewelde Moore could actually find some running lanes this Sunday, giving the Steelers a rarely seen two-dimensional offense and also taking additional pressure off the very sore and bruised Roethlisberger.
Kerry Collins will have no such luck. Facing the No. 1 ranked pass defense and the No. 2 rush defense will be his biggest test of the year, and with three interceptions in his last two games the Titans will be hurting if they cannot get their vaunted run game going, a strength they will have to use if they want to beat Pittsburgh.
Although the Steelers have been holding running backs to 75 ypg and 3.2 ypc, they have not faced a two headed monster quite like Lendale White and Chris Johnson, the perfect thunder/lightning combo.
Also worth noting is how the Titans have only given up an impressive seven sacks this whole season. This number will be tested by the Steelers sack duo, Woodley and Harrison.
My prediction: The Steelers D shuts down the Titans run game enough to put Kerry Collins in some precarious third and longs. With the game in Collins's hands look for him to force a few throws and the Pittsburgh secondary getting one or two picks.
On offense Big Ben will be able to stay upright for most of the game giving Hines Ward and company enough time for Mr. Roethlisberger to hit the 3000 yard mark for the second consecutive season.. Willie Parker wakes up from his hibernation and also puts up some respectable numbers against the weakened D-line. He won't get a hundred yards, but enough to move the chains and a touchdown.
Final Score: Steelers 24 Titans 9
Note: If the Steelers hold the Titans for under 300 yards of total offense, they will become the first team in NFL history to record 15 straight games with no offense going over the 300 yard mark.
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