For a change, the Pittsburgh Steelers enter the beginning of a season as a team with a ton of question marks.
After a disappointing 8-8 season in 2012, it remains to be seen if the Steelers have gotten much better. There are major questions at running back, the offensive line, wide receiver and at tight end in the offense.
On the other side of the ball, while Dick LeBeau’s defense should be pretty good once again, it’s hard to predict major success for this team unless they get back to forcing turnovers and making big plays, something they haven’t done a lot of the past couple of seasons.
As for the Titans, it has been a disappoint four-year stretch for the Titans who haven’t made the playoffs and have combined to go only 29-35 since 2008.
If they are to turn things around, a lot depend on if quarterback Jake Locker makes the necessary improvements.
He’s looked good at times in the preseason, which doesn’t mean much, but if Locker doesn’t take the next step, it could end up costing Titans’ head coach Mike Munchak his job if the Titans miss the playoffs again.
Who will win this battle of disappointing teams in 2012?
Let’s take a look.
When: Sunday, September 8
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST
Place: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
Spread: Steelers -7
Last Meeting: 2012, Titans 26-23 at LP Field
Key for Steelers: Splash Plays on Defense
Much has been made about the fact that the Steelers haven’t made big plays on defense in a while and they need to start of Sunday on a good note.
The Steelers had only 37 sacks a season ago, to go along with only 20 turnovers forced. What’s more disturbing is that the Steelers scored just one defensive touchdown in 2012, a year after scoring only one in 20111.
For the Steelers to have success in 2013, the big play must return. There’s no time like Sunday to get that trend started.
Key for Titans: Run the football
That’s easier said than done against a Steelers defense, but for the Titans to win they have to get back to playing physical football and make getting Chris Johnson enough touches a major priority.
After a slow start to the season last year, Johnson picked up the pace towards the end of the season and finished with 1,243 yards on the ground. However Johnson really hasn’t been great since his 2,000-yard season in 2009.
The Titans saw that problem and addressed the offensive line in the offseason by drafting Alabama’s Chance Warmack and signing Andy Levitre. It will likely pay off in the long run, but they have a very stern test to start the season.
Prediction: I’m not overly convinced that this Steelers team is going to go anywhere in 2013, but I like them in a tight game to open the season. Any time Ben Roethlisberger is under center, you have a chance to win and I like Big Ben to do enough to come away with a win at home. The Steelers have a tendency to play down to their competition, but that won’t happen on Sunday as the Steelers will be up to start the season. If this game is played four weeks from now, I may lean towards Tennessee, but I will stick with the home team. Steelers 24, Titans 16