Thursday Night Football is usually a wasteland of bad matchups with little to no stakes for both teams. Tonight, audiences will not only be treated to a big game but one with major stakes.
The Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers square off with huge playoff implications. The Titans are on a four-game win streak as are the Steelers.
Pittsburgh has a bevy of offensive weapons but hasn’t been able to put it all together consistently.
Tennessee possesses a ton of potential but often fail to fully realize it. For Marcus Mariota and company to take command of the second spot in the AFC they need to. Here are three ways in which the Titans can secure a victory.
1. Pressure Ben Roethlisberger
Le’veon Bell is the most dangerous weapon the Steelers have. He’s a devastating runner and catcher. The way to neutralize him is for Jurrell Casey and the rest of the defensive line to keep hitting Ben Roethlisberger. The less Big Ben can air it out the more the Steelers have to run the ball. Ben hasn’t had a great season and looks like a shadow of himself. Having dynamic receivers such as Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster become moot because Ben can’t get them the ball. The Titans defense keeps getting better each week. They should have no problem bringing Ben down.
2. Marcus Mariota Can’t Run The Option
It is tempting to have Mariota run the option. It’s like having three running backs on the field (obviously). The problem is that the Titans rely on it too much and it could ultimately cost them Marcus Mariota.
Mariota injured his non-throwing shoulder last Sunday against the Bengals. He needs to stay in the pocket if he is to survive the rest of the season. He’s already missed time due to a hamstring injury. He’s capable of making big throws down the field so there’s no excuse for having him run every three plays. The Steelers are without corner Joe Haden so they could take advantage of a depleted secondary.
3. Run The Ball
DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry are a formidable tandem. The Steelers have a very good front seven. The Titans are capable of grinding teams down with their running game and should do that Thursday. DeMarco Murray alone should be able to break the Steelers defense. That in turn enables the Titans ability to run play action which Mariota is great at.
If Tennessee pulls this win out they will be on track for a first-round bye. That seemed impossible a few weeks ago but the season has been chaotic. If the Titans follow these three steps they should come out with a victory. The Titans are quietly becoming one of the scariest teams in the AFC. Tonight is their chance to make their presence known.