Week 11 opens with an old AFC Central battle between the Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Titans are wrapping up their month long tour of the AFC North division and are 3-0 so far. The Steelers are trying to keep pace with the Patriots for the best record in the AFC and host this important matchup between two division leading teams. Kickoff inside Heinz Field is at 8:25 PM ET.
Both teams come into this matchup on a 4 game winning streak. This game provides a huge opportunity for the winner as they will hold a crucial tie breaker. As of now, with both teams leading their divisions, this tie breaker could be the difference between a first round bye in the playoffs and playing the first week of the post season.
Over the last 10 head-to-head meetings between the Titans and the Steelers, each team has won 5 games apiece. They last played in 2014 and Pittsburgh won that game 27-24. The Steelers have won 4 out of the last 6 games in this series and 3 out of their last 4 home games against the Titans.
Last weekend, the Titans (6-3) were able to hold off a charging Bengals team to come away with the victory. It was their 4th straight victory, and 3rd in a row over the AFC North. Tennessee hopes to pull off the upset in Pittsburgh on Thursday night and sweep the entire division on the season.
The Steelers (7-2) came from behind to defeat a scrappy Indianapolis Colts team 20-17. Pittsburgh had troubles all game long with establishing any consistent rhythm on offense. The Steelers look to improve their offensive flaws from this past weekend and soundly defeat a solid Titans team.
The spread opened with Pittsburgh favored by 6.5 points. It has gone up slightly to 7 points. The Over/Under opened at 43.5 points and has gone up to 44 total points.
After watching the way Pittsburgh struggled with the Colts, I have a hard time putting my confidence and money on the Steelers to win by more than a touchdown on a short week. Over their last 5 games, Pittsburgh has outscored their opponents 19.4 to 17.8. On the season, Pittsburgh is scoring 20.8 ppg and allowing 16.4 ppg. Only 3 of their 7 wins have been by more than a touchdown. The other 4 wins were by 6 points or less.
The Titans are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 Thursday games and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games against the Steelers. Pittsburgh is 3-6 ATS in their last 9 November games. The Underdog, which is the Titans this week, has gone 6-1 ATS in their last 7 head-to-head meetings.
This is not the same high scoring Steelers team that we are accustomed to seeing. Big Ben hasn’t had the best of seasons and he has struggled at times. Ben has a 12-10 TD-to-INT ratio and is only averaging 260 passing yards per game. That’s mostly because they are throwing the ball more due to an inability to dominate on the ground with an elite back in Bell. The Steelers average 106 rushing yards per game, but have struggled over the last few weeks as they were held to just 88 rushing yards against the Colts and 75 rushing yards against the Lions.
The Titans only allow 91 rushing yards per game, so Pittsburgh is going to have another challenging game on the ground this week. Fortunately for Pitt, the Titans do give up 246.9 passing yards per game and that should look appealing to Ben, Brown, Schuster and the rest of the passing game. However, over their last 5 games, Tennessee has only allowed 17.4 points per game. So, even if Pitt finds success through the air, that doesn’t mean it will result in touchdowns.
Against the AFC North, the Titans have allowed 16.3 ppg and 311 ypg. That’s 7 points less per game than their season average and 27 total yards per game less than their season average.
With an improved defense and a solid running game, the Titans have a good chance to cover this spread and possibly win the game. Pitt gives up 102.7 rushing yards per game and Titans QB Marcus Mariota will make the Steelers pay with his legs.
The home team tends to have the advantage on a short week, so I’m going with the Steelers at home, but only by a late field goal 20-17.