Week 5: Titans-Steelers preview

The Sports Xchange

Tennessee at Pittsburgh

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh - TV: CBS; DirecTV: 704

*TV announcers: Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf

*Keys to the game: The Titans are winning games on the strength of their play in the trenches, while offensive line issues are threatening to derail the Steelers' season. QB Ben Roethlisberger has been taking a weekly beating due to poor line play, and now has a foot injury, while RB Rashard Mendenhall's slow start (3.0 yards per carry) won't be helped by a hamstring injury. If the Titans can continue to apply pressure (10 sacks), the Steelers again will find it difficult to capitalize on their deep group of receivers working downfield. QB Matt Hasselbeck is engineering a surprisingly potent Tennessee passing attack that didn't miss a beat following WR Kenny Britt's season-ending injury. Pittsburgh's defense hasn't been able to completely silence critics who claim the unit has aged quickly. Houston rushed for 180 yards last week while the Steelers failed to register a single sack.

*Matchup to watch - Titans RB Chris Johnson vs. Steelers front seven: After three extremely listless performances, Johnson found his stride with a 101-yard effort at Cleveland. As Hasselbeck continues to tear apart secondaries, the running lanes should only get bigger for Johnson. The NFL's reigning No. 1 run defense, the Steelers are giving up 119.5 yards per game on the ground and 4.8 yards per carry, including four runs of 20-plus yards.

*Player spotlight - Titans DE Derrick Morgan: The 2010 first-round pick has 3.5 sacks in seven career games, including two in the past three weeks, and opportunities to make impact plays are abundant working against the Steelers' offensive line.

*Fast facts: Johnson rushed for 101 yards last week after totaling 98 through the first three weeks. ... Roethlisberger has three touchdown passes, five interceptions and has been sacked 14 times.


Every time the Steelers are counted out, they seem to rise from the ashes to show they still have plenty of kick. As long as the run defense rebounds from a poor game in Houston, the Steelers edge out a very needed victory at home.

*Our pick: Steelers 24-23

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