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costanza2k1
12-17-2008, 08:38 PM
http://assets.espn.go.com/photo/2008/1217/nfl_johnson_ward1_576.jpg

This game features two of best teams in the AFC with home field advantage for the playoffs on the line. Tennessee is reeling after losing last week to the Texans and a scary left knee injury to their best defensive player, DT Albert Haynesworth. The Steelers won a street fight in Baltimore to post the AFC's second best record, clinch a first-round bye and win the NFC North. The Steelers have the no. 1 defense in football and will head to Tennessee intent on stopping QB Kerry Collins, RB Chris Johnson and the Titans' No. 19 ranked offense. Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has had several issues along the defensive line this year and now must adjust quickly to life without Haynesworth for the next couple of weeks.



When Pittsburgh has the ball
The Steelers' offense, led by QB Ben Roethlisberger, is not your typical Steelers offense, but it has been good enough to mount four fourth-quarter comeback wins. WRs Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes lead the team in receiving and backup RB Mewelde Moore is the team's third leading receiver. The Steelers' running game hasn't produced as consistently as expected, but did manage to grind out 91 yards versus Baltimore's stout run defense. This Steelers offensive line isn't the physically dominant group we are used to seeing from Pittsburgh, but it has been good enough to produce good results against a challenging schedule every week.

Expect the Steelers to test the interior of the Titans' run defense with Haynesworth out of the lineup. Roethlisberger's toughness in the pocket and ability to locate receivers at the last second will test Tennessee's downfield coverage and probably force coordinator Jim Schwartz to send extra players to generate pressure. With DE Kyle Vanden Bosch also out, it will be tough for Tennessee to come up with an effective four-man rush, so the blitz schemes of the Titans will likely be on display. Roethlisberger does a good job of operating out of the shotgun and running the no-huddle offense. He has a quarterback-friendly tight end in Heath Miller and since his return from injury he has provided the offense a spark both in the run and passing game.


When Tennessee has the ball
The Titans' offense will be challenged to move the ball against the Steelers, but expect to see them use their physical offensive line to try and establish the run from the beginning. The Titans have the league's No. 5 rushing attack that is averaging 142.8 yards per game on the ground. However, last week Tennessee's offense was only able to generate 281 yards of total offense against the Texans and limited success on third down, so offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger will have his hands full designing ways to attack an even better defense this week.

Pittsburgh is only allowing 239.1 yards per game and they have been spectacular executing the schemes designed by veteran coordinator Dick LeBeau. The Titans' running game is led by Johnson and his speed and acceleration can create big plays. TE Bo Scaife leads the Titans in receiving and his concentration in traffic and ability to run after the catch can create problems in the short-to-intermediate passing game. The Titans usually use the running game to set up the play-action passing game for Collins, but the Titans will have to mix up the play calling this week. Protecting the football and taking calculated risks in the passing game are a must for the Titans this week.

Matchup to watch

Titans RB Chris Johnson vs. Steelers run defense

Running the ball on Pittsburgh will be extremely tough, so Johnson needs to be decisive with his reads and find space as quickly as possible. Very few players possess the type of acceleration and speed that Johnson has, so the Titans should look to get him isolated as often as possible with a variety of outside runs or quick passes. Pittsburgh is very sound against the run and Johnson needs to avoid being creative, limit the number of times he changes direction and use his acceleration to hit small openings quickly to have success running the ball against the Steelers.

Steelers
Keys to Success

1 Pound it up the middle: The Titans took a big hit in Houston when Haynesworth injured his knee and they will have a hard time filling his shoes. They were already short-handed due to DT Kevin Vickerson's four-game suspension and Vanden Bosch's injury. The Steelers should attack this area up front with traps, counters, double teams and the power running game to try and wear down the Titans' depleted front. The Steelers need to stick with the run game throughout the course of the contest and not abandon it too soon.

2 Confuse Collins: LeBeau is one of the best at disguising his blitzes and coverage before the ball is snapped and the Steelers should continue use the their pre-snap defensive adjustments and complicated blitz schemes to confuse Collins. The Titans rely on a short, efficient passing game with limited deep throws from the quarterback. Pittsburgh needs to have success confusing Collins and taking away the shorter areas of the field with a variety of zone and man concepts because Collins has struggled to make consistent deep throws lately.

3 Protect the ball: Every possession counts in a game like this, so protecting the football and avoiding turnovers will be critical. Both teams do a good job of capitalizing on mistakes, so Roethlisberger needs to be efficient in the passing game, while the backs and receivers need to cover up the ball.

Titans
Keys to Success

1 Try to create pressure: With a banged up defensive line, the Titans will likely have trouble generating pressure with their four-man rush. Schwartz will need to be creative in his attempt to generate pressure on Roethlisberger. The use of fire zones, overload looks and defensive stunts should be able to create some favorable matchups against Pittsburgh's offensive line that has looked slow footed up front.

2 Run outside: Tennessee's run game, led by the speed and quickness of Johnson and the strength of Lendale White, will have to be efficient to have success against the Steelers' run defense. Tennessee should use Johnson's speed to the outside and quickness in space to soften up the edges of the defense. Pittsburgh is normally very physical inside, so setting the edge will be crucial.

3 Protect Collins: Pittsburgh is one of the best teams in the league at forcing quick throws and generating a lot of hits on the quarterback. The Titans' protections schemes will have to be sound all day and they must do their homework leading up to the game in order to handle the wide variety of blitz pressures and complicated looks that the Steelers are capable of displaying each week. Veteran C Kevin Mawae is very alert and his protection adjustments up front need to be quick and precise in order to alleviate the confusion that can be caused by the Steelers' defense.

Scouts Edge
We are giving the Scouts Inc. Advantage to the Steelers in this matchup, primarily due to their stifling defense. The Titans will be short-handed defensively and the Steelers' offense should be able to take advantage. This will be another physical game for both teams, but Pittsburgh's defense should be able to continue creating confusion and capitalize on mistakes to come out on top in this contest.

Prediction

Pittsburgh 20
Tennessee 16

SanAntonioSteelerFan
12-18-2008, 01:17 PM
Except for his calling the win for us, I call this man an ignorant cliche-spouting spouting fool! (Hope he's not someone on this forum's Dad or anything, I'm just pretty much down on the national media lately, especially after all that cr*p about the "controversial" TD catch by Tones... and still pissed off about the "controversial" comments about the sneak by Ben in Superbowl XL ... hey, I'll get over it!)


http://assets.espn.go.com/photo/2008/1217/nfl_johnson_ward1_576.jpg

This game features two of best teams in the AFC with home field advantage for the playoffs on the line. Tennessee is reeling after losing last week to the Texans and a scary left knee injury to their best defensive player, DT Albert Haynesworth. The Steelers won a street fight in Baltimore to post the AFC's second best record, clinch a first-round bye and win the NFC [ :roll: ] North. The Steelers have the no. 1 defense in football and will head to Tennessee intent on stopping QB Kerry Collins, RB Chris Johnson and the Titans' No. 19 ranked offense. Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has had several issues along the defensive line this year and now must adjust quickly to life without Haynesworth for the next couple of weeks.



When Pittsburgh has the ball
The Steelers' offense, led by QB Ben Roethlisberger, is not your typical Steelers offense ... [oh, like he's got us pegged as a what kind of team on offense?], but it has been good enough to mount four fourth-quarter comeback wins. WRs Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes lead the team in receiving and backup RB Mewelde Moore is the team's third leading receiver. The Steelers' running game hasn't produced as consistently as expected, but did manage to grind out 91 yards versus Baltimore's stout run defense. This Steelers offensive line isn't the physically dominant group we are used to seeing from Pittsburgh ... [when is the last time he saw a Steeler game?], but it has been good enough to produce good results against a challenging schedule every week.

Expect the Steelers to test the interior of the Titans' run defense with Haynesworth out of the lineup. Roethlisberger's toughness in the pocket and ability to locate receivers at the last second will test Tennessee's downfield coverage and probably force coordinator Jim Schwartz to send extra players to generate pressure. With DE Kyle Vanden Bosch also out, it will be tough for Tennessee to come up with an effective four-man rush, so the blitz schemes of the Titans will likely be on display. Roethlisberger does a good job of operating out of the shotgun and running the no-huddle offense. He has a quarterback-friendly tight end in Heath Miller and since his return from injury he has provided the offense a spark both in the run and passing game.


When Tennessee has the ball
The Titans' offense will be challenged to move the ball against the Steelers, but expect to see them use their physical offensive line to try and establish the run from the beginning. The Titans have the league's No. 5 rushing attack that is averaging 142.8 yards per game on the ground. However, last week Tennessee's offense was only able to generate 281 yards of total offense against the Texans and limited success on third down, so offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger will have his hands full designing ways to attack an even better defense this week.

Pittsburgh is only allowing 239.1 yards per game and they have been spectacular executing the schemes designed by veteran coordinator bad word LeBeau. The Titans' running game is led by Johnson and his speed and acceleration can create big plays. TE Bo Scaife leads the Titans in receiving and his concentration in traffic and ability to run after the catch can create problems in the short-to-intermediate passing game. The Titans usually use the running game to set up the play-action passing game for Collins, but the Titans will have to mix up the play calling this week. Protecting the football and taking calculated risks in the passing game are a must for the Titans this week. ... [OK, so gotta be conservative, but gotta take chances ... anything he left out of this one?]

Matchup to watch

Titans RB Chris Johnson vs. Steelers run defense

Running the ball on Pittsburgh will be extremely tough, so Johnson needs to be decisive with his reads and find space as quickly as possible. Very few players possess the type of acceleration and speed that Johnson has, so the Titans should look to get him isolated as often as possible with a variety of outside runs or quick passes. Pittsburgh is very sound against the run and Johnson needs to avoid being creative, limit the number of times he changes direction and use his acceleration to hit small openings quickly to have success running the ball against the Steelers.

Steelers
Keys to Success

1 Pound it up the middle: The Titans took a big hit in Houston when Haynesworth injured his knee and they will have a hard time filling his shoes. They were already short-handed due to DT Kevin Vickerson's four-game suspension and Vanden Bosch's injury. The Steelers should attack this area up front with traps, counters, double teams and the power running game to try and wear down the Titans' depleted front. ... [this clinches it, the guy hasn't seen a Steeler game in 2 years] The Steelers need to stick with the run game throughout the course of the contest and not abandon it too soon.

2 Confuse Collins: LeBeau is one of the best at disguising his blitzes and coverage before the ball is snapped and the Steelers should continue use the their pre-snap defensive adjustments and complicated blitz schemes to confuse Collins ... [just a matter of opinion here, but it seems to me that Collins' weakness as a veteran is less likely an inability to figure out defenses (unlike Fellaco). He is, however, about as mobile as a cow, so I think flushing him out of the pocket is more likely to pay dividends on D]. The Titans rely on a short, efficient passing game with limited deep throws from the quarterback. Pittsburgh needs to have success confusing Collins and taking away the shorter areas of the field with a variety of zone and man concepts because Collins has struggled to make consistent deep throws lately.

3 Protect the ball: Every possession counts in a game like this, so protecting the football and avoiding turnovers will be critical. Both teams do a good job of capitalizing on mistakes, so Roethlisberger needs to be efficient in the passing game, while the backs and receivers need to cover up the ball.

Titans
Keys to Success

1 Try to create pressure: With a banged up defensive line, the Titans will likely have trouble generating pressure with their four-man rush. Schwartz will need to be creative in his attempt to generate pressure on Roethlisberger. The use of fire zones, overload looks and defensive stunts should be able to create some favorable matchups against Pittsburgh's offensive line that has looked slow footed up front.

2 Run outside: Tennessee's run game, led by the speed and quickness of Johnson and the strength of Lendale White, will have to be efficient to have success against the Steelers' run defense. Tennessee should use Johnson's speed to the outside and quickness in space to soften up the edges of the defense. Pittsburgh is normally very physical inside, so setting the edge will be crucial.

3 Protect Collins: Pittsburgh is one of the best teams in the league at forcing quick throws and generating a lot of hits on the quarterback. The Titans' protections schemes will have to be sound all day and they must do their homework leading up to the game in order to handle the wide variety of blitz pressures and complicated looks that the Steelers are capable of displaying each week. Veteran C Kevin Mawae is very alert and his protection adjustments up front need to be quick and precise in order to alleviate the confusion that can be caused by the Steelers' defense.

Scouts Edge
We are giving the Scouts Inc. Advantage to the Steelers in this matchup, primarily due to their stifling defense. The Titans will be short-handed defensively and the Steelers' offense should be able to take advantage. This will be another physical game for both teams, but Pittsburgh's defense should be able to continue creating confusion and capitalize on mistakes to come out on top in this contest.

Prediction

Pittsburgh 20
Tennessee 16