Saturday, September 18, 2010

Steelers Game Day 2 - @ Tennessee Titans

The Steelers are fresh off a win over Atlanta and now they go to the south to play a pretty decent Tennessee Titans team.  Needless to say a win here and the Steelers are looking great going into a week three match up with Tampa Bay with a chance to pile on the wins before Ben gets back after his four game suspension.  The Titans really have a lot of unknowns in the trenches, which I am not sure if that is good or bad.  Enough of this, lets get to the preview.

Last Week:

Pittsburgh 15, Atlanta 9 (OT)
Passing: Dixon: 18/26, 236 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 22 car, 120 yards, TD
Receiving: Ward: 6 rec, 108 yards

Tennessee 38, Oakland 13
Passing: Young: 13/17, 154 yards, 2 TD
Rushing: Johnson: 27 car, 142 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: Washington: 3 rec, 88 yards, 1 TD

Offense (rank in NFL)
Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 354 yards/game (11th)
Tennessee: 345 yards/game (12th)

Pittsburgh: 211 yards/game (16th)
Tennessee: 140 yards/game (28th)

Pittsburgh: 143 yards/game (4th)
Tennessee: 205 yards/game (2nd)

Pittsburgh: 15 points/game (t=17th)
Tennessee: 38 points/game (t-1st)

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 295 yards/game (13th)
Tennessee: 286 yards/game (11th)

Pittsburgh: 58 yards/game (6th)
Tennessee: 136 yards/game (28th)

Pittsburgh: 237 yards/game (22nd)
Tennessee: 150 yards/game (8th)

Pittsburgh: 9 points/game (t-3rd)
Tennessee: 13 points/game (t-8th)

Both teams are coming off pretty big wins, althought the mean of "big win" is different for both of those respective teams. The Steelers win was big because they were facing a playoff caliber team without their top player. The goal, as I have stated millions of times, was to go 2-2 without BR. With the win against Atlanta they only have to win one of the next three games in order to get there, if that was your goal. You have to think they have a good shot of beating a bad Buccaneers team in week three to this swing game against the Titan could vault them and give them a ton of confidence.

The Titans on the other hand played a pretty bad Raiders team, and it showed. I know know the line "well everyone said that the Raiders were a ton better this year and they are on their way up and blah blah blah." You know what else people said? The world was flat, how'd that work out? Thought so. The Raiders still can't defend the run and Chris Johnson capitalized.

The key to the game is making Vince Young beat us. Nobody can sit there and try to say that Chris Johnson isn't a good back or that the Titans front line isn't good at making holes and seams for him and his dread locked hair. People say it all the time but if you make a team one dimensional they are much easier to beat. Can Vince Young carry a team on his arm for a win? I doubt it. Can Vince Young win with a balanced running game and he manages the passing attack? Hell yea. I do not think Vince Young is a very good quarterback but if the running game is going to gash the defense some then things could get very interesting.

The Steelers defense showed a lot last week, especially Lawrence Timmons and Bryant McFadden. What people don't really realize with Lawrence Timmons is that his good play (like last week) really opens up the rest of the linebackers to play their own game. Nobody has to cover for his mistakes anymore. LT is making good plays in the run game and is more than athletic enough to cover tight ends in patters so it really loosens up the defense for everyone to do their job and that is what we got last week.

The Titans are not as recognizable as they have been over the past couple of years. Gone are the likes of Keith Bullick and the towel stomping and in the place are a bunch of really unknown defensive players. Former Steeler Chris Hope is in a very good secondary with Cortland Finnegan and Michael Griffin. The pass defense is pretty good and those DB's are able to lay the wood if Dixon is going to leave something up high over the middle.

The linebackers include Jamie Winborn, Stephen Tulloch and Will Witherspoon. Tulloch is the best of the group as he has accounted for over 100 tackles over the past three or four years. Don't ask me how many years, I know it is over the last few plus one or two but I am really lazy. He did lead the team with 121 tackles last year and two sacks. Meh, two sacks is what LaMarr Woodley has for breakfast.

Like I said Vince Young is not the guy I would want to have on my team (fantasy or real) to try and get wins. Sure he might have gotten better but man what a headcase. He gets booed a few years ago and basically runs away from home. Speaking of which I hope none of the Steelers flash the hook em horns sign upside down because if you do then you might get this:

YEA GO GET EM VINCE. I wonder if Pacman was with him.

Young has problems throwing the short ball, but he is pretty decent at throwing the deep ball. Gonna be pretty hard to throw the deep ball when you have James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley in your grill all day. The Steelers defense is predicated on giving up the underneath routes and getting pressure on the QB. Get some pressure on Vince Young and slow the run game down and I think the Steelers have a nice chance in this one.

What might be different about this football team than most you will see the Steelers play this year is that they are more of a helter skelter offensive unit. They will run a wild cat type offense thanks to the athleticism of Vince Young. Well that and he isn't a very good quarterback. He is going to get out of the pocket and is going to run and make stuff happen if he is able to break containment. With this kind of format Chris Johnson becomes even more of a force in the offensive play book. Just because he doesn't get the ball on a hand off doesn't mean that he isn't going to catch passes. Johnson caught 50 balls for 503 yards. Not too shabby.
The defense is going to have to contain and keep things in front of them. What does this mean? You might not see the pass rush that you are typically seeing. Last time these two teams met the Steelers used a more contained rush to keep things bottled up and not let a screen pass beat them and not let VY get outside the pocket. The Steelers don't face a ton of "wildcat" offenses (even though it isn't true wildcat, whatever that is) so it will be interesting to see if they get after it this time.

Just like last week the offensive line is going to have to be good again. The Steelers are going to want to run the football again and control the clock and dictate the game. The Steelers were able to do that against Atlanta and even though they tried to get into the uptempo style of game the Steelers were able to make them play of they wanted to play, and that was a huge testament to the offensive line. DD got sacked three different times, but it really wasn't that bad. Two of them happened on back-to-back plays and other than that the protection was pretty good for the Steelers and Dixon. The running game wasn't great but it was good enough and the dam finally broke when it needed to. Before Rashard's 50 yard walk off winner he only had 70 some yards, but they weren't bad yards. They were moving the ball well and Ike Redmond was good at converting some third and short.

Everyone is hyping up the Titans pretty big this season. A lot of people are thinking that they are too much for the Steelers and Dennis Dixon. I don't really see it like a lot of people do. Don't get me wrong, Tennessee will be a good team and it will be tough, but would it shock me to see the Steelers win. The Titans are alright, but not a great as some thing. The Steelers win this one. The score? Probably something like 24-16, I think DD gets some points on the board.

What did yinz think? Am I off base? Let me know in the comments.

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