'Thursday Night Football' tonight: Streaming, TV, why the Steelers will beat the Titans
The Steelers and Titans are both looking to stay atop their respective divisions
The Titans are 6-3, their best record through nine games since 2008, when they were 8-0 on their way to 13-3. Back then, 36-year-old Kerry Collins was the starting quarterback, Chris Johnson and LenDale White combined to rush for more than 2,000 yards, Justin Gage and Bo Scaife led the team in receiving yards and Mike Munchak was the head coach.
Nine years later and only Munchak remains -- and that's as the Steelers' offensive line coach. But the Titans, who managed just two winning seasons between 2009-2014, are doing just fine. And most of that success has to do with taking Marcus Mariota second overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. The former Oregon standout went an inconsistent rookie season in which the Titans won three times, to a top-10 quarterback last season, on a per-play basis, as Tennessee improved to 9-7.
Through eight starts this season, Mariota has slipped to 19th in value per play (behind Jameis Winston and Blake Bortles), mostly because a hamstring injury that that forced him to miss the team's Week 5 game against the Dolphins and forced him to stay in the pocket when he returned to face the Colts eight days later. And now he enters Thursday night's matchup against the Steelers nursing an ankle and shoulder injury he suffered late in Sunday's win over the Bengals.
But there's no chance Mariota doesn't play, though the Titans may lean on their fourth-ranked running game even more than usual. Mariota's mobility plays a big part in Tennessee's run-game success but so too do Derrick Henry (409 yards, three TDs) and DeMarco Murray (433 yards, four TDs), who rank sixth and 15th in value-per-play among all rushers.
The Steelers, meanwhile, feature their best defense since 2010, which was the last time they made it to the Super Bowl. That group was the league's best, ranking No. 1 against the run and No. 3 against the pass. The 2017 version is young, fast and explosive, though they've lost one of their top defenders, cornerback Joe Haden, for several weeks to a broken leg. This unit ranks fourth overall (fourth against the run, fifth against the pass), though they are susceptible to the big play. In Week 3, the Bears' Jordan Howard averaged 6.1 yards per carry and gashed the Steelers for 140 yards. In Week 8, Matthew Stafford threw for 423 yards but the Lions didn't find the end zone all game, and just last week, the Colts' Chester Rogers and Donte Moncrief burned the Steelers' secondary for touchdown receptions of 61 and 60 yards.
Put another way: The Titans will have chances in the passing game, especially with Haden sidelined. According to Football Outsiders, the Steelers do a good job of shutting down opponents' No. 1 receiver (they rank 11th in the league) but are 21st against No. 2 receivers and 18th against running backs catching passes.
That could mean big things for wideouts Rishard Matthews (36 catches, 513 yards, 2 touchdowns), Eric Decker (28, 266, 1), and rookies Taywan Jones (13, 208, 1) and Corey Davis (13, 149, 0). It could also mean Murray will be targeted more in passing situations (23, 155, 1). But Delanie Walker, the Titans' second-leading receiver (43, 458, 0), could struggle; the Steelers' are the NFL's best team when it comes to defending tight ends and Walker is battling a forearm injury.
The Steelers' biggest concern, however, will be Mariota, who is almost impossible to contain when he's spearheading the running game. The only question is how much of that will he be able to do after suffering the ankle injury and on just three days' rest. But can Mariota and the Titans do enough against Steelers' top-five defense while Pittsburgh's offense -- which hasn't yet hit its stride but still ranks sixth overall and features names like Roethlisberger, Brown, Bell, Bryant and Smith-Schuster -- faces off against a Tennessee defense that ranks 23rd overall?
We're not so sure, especially at Heinz Field, and that's why we like the Steelers to win, 23-17. You can read more on the Steelers.
'Madden' is coming to Thursday Night
Fog forced NBC to use its dual Skycam technology for the Week 7 Falcons-Patriots game and it was such a huge hit with fans thatin the Titans-Steelers get-together.
Here's an example of what it looked like in Gillette Stadium:
"We are excited to present a game with the majority of live-action coverage coming from SkyCam," NBC Sports executive producer Fred Gaudelli said earlier this month, adding: "After pivoting out of necessity to Skycam in the New England fog, we've been aggressively planning and testing with the intent of utilizing the system for a full game. ...
"We'll still have our full complement of cameras and will revert to traditional coverage when situations dictate, but the primary viewing experience of the game will come from the Skycam angle."
So why the aggressive push to realize the dual Skycam angle?
"Younger generations of NFL fans have grown accustomed to watching football from this angle through their love of video games," Gaudelli explained. "This telecast will have a look and feel akin to that experience."
How to watch, stream
It's Color Rush Thursday (again), y'all!
Every Thursday is Color Rush Thursday in the NFL. You're welcome.
From all black to all blue (See what we did there? No? Moving on...):
Just like last season, Color Rush will be a Thursday Night Football staple. In the meantime, here is every team's Color Rush uniform from 2016.
AFC Color Rush
NFC Color Rush
Thursday night schedule
- Week 11: Titans at Steelers, Nov. 16 at 8:25 p.m. ET on NBC and NFLN
- Week 12: Giants at Redskins, Nov. 23 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC
- Week 13: Redskins at Cowboys, Nov. 30 at 8:25 p.m. ET on NBC and NFLN
- Week 14: Saints at Falcons, Dec. 7 at 8:25 p.m. ET on NBC and NFLN
- Week 15: Broncos at Colts, Dec. 14 at 8:25 p.m. ET on NBC and NFLN
'TNF' comes to Amazon
After Twitter hosted several "Thursday Night Football" games during the 2016 for live streaming, it lost a bid for the NFL's 2017 streaming package to Amazon, which will stream 10 Thursday night games during the season for Amazon Prime members. You can read more about Amazon's deal here.
Here are the games available for streaming from Amazon:
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