The Pittsburgh Steelers have not looked the part of a dominant team but they keep finding ways to win and are tied with the New England Patriots for the best record in the AFC. The Steelers will go for their fifth consecutive victory when they host the visiting Tennessee Titans on Thursday night in a matchup of division leaders.
Pittsburgh extended its winning streak in dramatic fashion, rallying from a 14-point deficit in the second half to beat Indianapolis 20-17 on a last-second field goal by Chris Boswell. “There was a lot of negativity that we will talk about,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said after his team improved to 5-1 on the road. “But we’ll talk about negativity with a win. That’s my preference.” The Titans also have won four in a row to join Jacksonville atop the AFC South, rallying for a last-minute 24-20 win over Cincinnati -- its third straight victory over an AFC North rival of Pittsburgh. “I use the word resilient a lot, but I think that’s the makeup of this team,” Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey said. “It’s amazing that they believe in themselves, they just know we always have a chance to win.”
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, NBC, NFL Network. LINE: Steelers -7. O/U: 44
ABOUT THE TITANS (6-3): Tennessee must find a way to get its offense on track on the road after scoring a combined 36 points in its last three away from home, especially with four of the next five games away from Nashville. Quarterback Marcus Mariota has thrown seven touchdown passes against six interceptions, but he has led three-game winning drives during the winning streak and is coming off a 51-yard rushing day versus Cincinnati. Running back DeMarco Murray scored three TDs in last week’s win while backup Derrick Henry added 52 yards on 11 carries. Tennessee has tightened up its rushing defense over the past four games, allowing a combined 277 yards in that span.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (7-2): Ben Roethlisberger owns a completion percentage of 61.1 and passer rating of 83.8 -- his lowest marks since the 2008 season -- but he rallied Pittsburgh with a pair of scoring passes in the second half last week. Le‘Veon Bell, who is averaging 29.5 carries the past four games, leads the league with 840 rushing yards while wideout Antonio Brown has an NFL-best 882 yards, although he has only 12 receptions over the past four games. Rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster continues to thrive with a touchdown catch in each of the past three games. Pittsburgh is second in the league, allowing an average of 16.4, and has held its last four opponents to 17 or fewer.
1. Roethlisberger has an NFL-high 121.7 QB rating in prime-time games since 2015 while Mariota is fifth at 105.4 (minimum three games).
2. Since Week 5, Tennessee’s defense has allowed only 17 of 63 conversions on third down.
3. Bell rushed for 204 yards and a TD in the last meeting, a 27-24 victory on Nov. 17, 2014.
PREDICTION: Steelers 24, Titans 16