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The halfway point of the 2023 NFL Season is set to pass into week nine this Thursday Night. The Tennessee Titans (3-4) are set to go on the road to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3). Two young, but eager quarterbacks are prepared to put their teams in the best position for the playoffs, but they will have to get through the tenacious defenses on Thursday.
The Tennessee Titans have been up-and-down this season, as they win one week and lose the next. Tennessee came into week eight on a two-game losing streak. In rookie Will Levis' first game as a starter, he threw four touchdowns to lead the Titans to a 28-23 home win over the Atlanta Falcons.
The Pittsburgh Steelers started the season 2-2 as they experienced some tough losses. They were able to rebound with big wins over the Baltimore Ravens and the Los Angeles Rams before losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars at home last week.
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See also how we think about the big TNF matchup between two serious playoff contenders.
The offense of the Tennessee Titans has been stale all season, as the productivity might have reached its limit under quarterback Ryan Tannehill and bad offensive line play. Last week against the Falcons was the best offensive performance for the Titans all season. Levis completed 19-of-29 of his passes for 238 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Derrick Henry accounted for his second 100-yard rushing performance of the season by rushing for 102 yards on 22 carries. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had his best game as a member of the Titans by catching four receptions for 128 yards and three touchdowns.
The Steelers' defense isn't as elite as they have been in the past few seasons. Injuries continue to plague the Steelers from reaching their full potential defensively. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt has accounted for 18 total tackles, 8.5 sacks, and 16 quarterback hits in seven games played. He will look to be an instant immediate player for a Titans' offensive line that has given 25 sacks.
The offense for the Steelers has been atrocious all season due to the poor game planning, development, and play-calling of offensive coordinator Matt Canada. The Steelers are ranked 29th in the league in points per game (16.1), 30th in total yards per game (271.7), 28th in rushing yards per game (79.7), and 25th in passing yards per game (192). Pittsburgh's offense is young but is incredibly talented. The development of these young players has been hindered, and the Steelers play better when Pickett changes the plays at the line.
The defense of the Titans has been filtered out through the past few seasons. The biggest star for Tennessee defensively is defensive Jeffery Simmons, who has accounted for 25 total tackles, seven quarterback hits, and 4.5 sacks in seven games. The Titans allow a significant amount of yardage in each game, but they are capable of stalling scores. Tennessee is ranked 13th in the league in points allowed per game (20).
Kenny Pickett has thrown for over 220 yards in five of the seven games played this season. The Titans' defense is ranked 20th in the league in passing yards allowed per game (232). He should have a bounceback performance against the Titans' defense.
Henry is coming off his second 100-yard rushing performance of the season. He was not traded before the NFL Trade Deadline, so he may look to prove he is still an elite running back in this league.
The Titans' sack leader isn't Jeffery Simmons or Harold Landry. 33-year-old defensive tackle/end Denico Autry leads the team in sacks accounted for this season with five.
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What - Tennessee Titans vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Where - Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
When - Thursday, November 2, 8:15 PM ET
How to Watch - Amazon Prime
Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.More info on Michael Hanich
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