The Steelers get a short week of rest to take on a Tennessee team that is just not looking good. The Titans are a pitiful 1-4 and are looking downright pitiful on offense, averaging just 65 yards a game on the ground with Chris Johnson. Therefore, it is easy to overlook the Titans, but these nothing to lose teams can cause fits with minimal preparation. However, there are three very easy ways to put the Titans out early and coast to a victory on tonight.
The first is stopping the run. The last thing the Steelers need to be dealing with is a Chris Johnson who discovered his old form. Thankfully, if the play of Lawrence Timmons and James Harrison continues, Johnson will be stuffed. Looking at this breakdown of the duo, Timmons and Harrison play off of one another. If James is effective, he can force double teams, opening angels for Timmons to exploit. You’d therefore think that Tennessee would just run the other way, right? But with Timmons at middle linebacker and the willingness to line Harrison up in different positions, Johnson will have to trust in his speed and offensive line. I like the Steelers in that matchup.
Naturally, stuffing the run will lead to more passing from Matt Hasselbeck. If this occurs, the Steelers need to force turnovers. Hasselbeck doesn’t have very good arm strength and is no where near as accurate as he used to be and with his main targets being Nate Washington and Jared Cook, there is no reason the Steelers can’t use their zone blitz to force mistakes. Ryan Mundy needs to play better in coverage, but this is a great game for him to ease into and potentially make up for his last two blunders with illegal hits.
Finally, the Tennessee defense may just be worse than their offense. Both the passing and rushing defenses are both ranked 25th or lower and thus, expect the Steelers to come out on the attack. I see no reason Ben doesn’t test Mike Wallace’s legs out early on some long passes to jump out to an early lead. The Titans don’t have the personel to successfully cover Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders and Ben should take advantage of this. The Steelers would then be able to sit back on their running and short passing game to ice the game.