Mariota has to raise his game

Titans To Defeat Steelers On The Road In AFC Crunch Clash

Week 11 of the NFL season kicks off on Thursday night with a potential playoff preview in the AFC Conference as the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Tennessee Titans.

Both sides are leading their respective divisions after playing nine matches this term. The Steelers lead the AFC North by a comfortable margin, while the Titans are edging the battle in the AFC South.

This contest could have consequences in deciding the outcome of the top two seeds in the Conference. Pittsburgh are on control of the number one seed for now – but the Titans along with the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs are in pursuit.

The Steelers staged a comeback to defeat the Indianapolis Colts last time out. Ben Roethlisberger and company struggled for three quarters, but found life to secure a narrow victory on the road.

Mike Tomlin’s men have struggled on offense throughout the term, failing to score over 30 points in their nine games. With the talent at their disposal, Pittsburgh have to improve to get over the line this time around after falling short of the Super Bowl in 2016.

The Titans have not been extremely impressive in their four-game winning streak. However, Mike Mularkey’s side have kept themselves on course to reach the post-season since the 2008 term. The offensive production has been solid, although not the high level expected out of Marcus Mariota.

They’ve been solid throughout the campaign, but need a stronger effort to defeat the AFC elite down the stretch. The Titans were good enough to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals at home last week. Tennessee will know that it will take a lot more to beat the Steelers on the road.

We’ll now break down both sides and the latest betting odds for the contest.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers need to click on offense

The Steelers are top of the AFC and are in complete control of the AFC North. However, Tomlin’s side have not been playing to the standards expected on offense. Roethlisberger has not been anywhere near his best this term. The 35-year-old on course for his lowest passer rating since 2008, throwing 12 touchdowns to 18 interceptions.

Even with the talent around him, Roethlisberger has struggled for rhythm. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell have eased the strain on the quarterback, while Juju Smith-Schuster has emerged.

Even with the trio operating at a level – the Steelers still had difficulty scoring points against one of the worst defences in the NFL. They even benefitted from a turnover inside the Colts’ own 20-yard line when Jack Doyle deflected the ball into the hands of Ryan Shazier.

That allowed Roethlisberger to find Vance McDonald in the endzone, while the quarterback then drove his team downfield late in the game to allow Chris Boswell to win the contest. The 35-year-old still has quality, but to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs – he will have to raise the level of his game.

Defensively, the Steelers are a team on the rise. The club’s young players are starting to play well as a unit, handing Tomlin a strong pass-rush and a solid secondary. Pittsburgh were hit by injuries to Mike Mitchell and Joe Haden, which could cause issues for the club against the Titans.

The defensive line has been impressive with Javon Hargrave, Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward dominating in the trenches. Bud Dupree, TJ Watt and Vince Williams have offered the pass-rush, highlighting the depth with James Harrison playing a reduced role.

The defense may have to carry the fortunes of the team, heading into their crucial matches down the stretch.

Tennessee Titans

Mariota has to raise his game

The Titans responded from their surprise defeat at the hands of the Miami Dolphins, reeling off four wins on the bounce. They’ve not played high-quality opponents, overcoming the Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and the Bengals.

However, Mularkey’s men still had to secure those victories, which has been a problem for Titans teams of the past. As a result, the club are on course to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008, but need to maintain their form to stave off the Jaguars behind them in the AFC South.

Mariota’s form has been a concern, with the 24-year-old not firing all cylinders since returning to action from a hamstring injury. The quarterback has had his problems with injuries, but against the Bengals he started to look a threat running the ball, offering a duel-threat.

His accuracy in the pocket has not been on point, throwing seven touchdowns to six interceptions. Mariota has quality in his receiving corps and a solid running game, and has to get more out of the talent around to ensure that the Titans are playing in January.

This is a statement game against a quality opponent for Tennessee. They missed the opportunity in week one of the campaign, falling to a comfortable loss to the Oakland Raiders at home. To become contenders in the AFC, Mularkey’s side have to beat teams of the Steelers’ ilk.

Defensively, the Titans have been up and down. Their secondary and defensive line will have their work cut out stopping Brown and Bell, but they will have to rise to the challenge to deliver a decisive victory on the road.

Betting Options

The Steelers have looked fragile on offense and needed a late surge to defeat a poor Colts team on the road last time out. Roethlisberger has not looked himself this term, while the pressure on Bell is beginning to tell with the back averaging three yards per carry in his last two matches.

The injuries in secondary could open up room for Mariota to strike downfield, although even he has not been good enough throwing downfield. The Titans have talent in their receiving corps, with Eric Decker, Delanie Walker, Rishard Matthews and Corey Davis as targets.

As a result, back Tennessee to secure a huge win on the road at odds of +250   at 888Sport. Take the Titans to cover the points at +7 at -110   with Betway with all their last four matches decided by six points or less.

The Steelers have not managed to score more than 30 points this term, while they’ve only passed the 25-point mark three times in nine games. As a result, back the Titans to hold them to under 24.5 points at -117   with 888Sport.

Tips Summary

Tennessee Titans To Beat Pittsburgh Steelers
Thursday 16th November 2017 20:30 ET (Friday 17th November 2017 01:30 ET)
Odds: +250

Take +7 Points Tennessee Titans
Thursday 16th November 2017 20:30 ET (Friday 17th November 2017 01:30 ET)
Odds: -110

Pittsburgh Steelers To Score Under 24.5 Points
Thursday 16th November 2017 20:30 ET (Friday 17th November 2017 01:30 ET)
Odds: -117

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