Pittsburgh Steelers 8:30 ET
Weather: 65 degrees at kick-off, wind out to the east at 8 mph, partly cloudy with 20% chance of rain.
After seven months of waiting, the NFL betting season is finally back! The Tennessee Titans (13-3, 12-4 ATS in 2008) will invade Heinz Field to do battle with the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4, 9-7 ATS in 2008) to start the festivities. The game can be seen nationally on NBC with kickoff slated for 8:30 ET.
The Titans were tied for the best ATS record in the NFL last season at 12-4, but they weren’t strong enough to win even one playoff game. In spite of the fact that those numbers are impressive, they failed to cover the number in three of their L/4, including that 13-10 playoff defeat to the Ravens.
Once again, the Steelers were the epitome of consistency in 2008, rolling off win after win with the same old, “run the ball and play good defense” philosophy. Unlike its counterpart for this evening, Pittsburgh comes into this game having won nine of its L/10 games SU and seven of its L/8 ATS.
Last season’s meeting saw RBs Chris Johnson and LenDale White combine to roll up 117 yards on the ground, leading the Titans to a 31-14 victory. The outright victory was certainly good enough to beat the insulting +1 spread that they were assigned at home.
Tennessee’s offense began on the field for the first drive of the game, but thanks to a pair of stuffed up runs and an incomplete pass, the Titans went three and out without gaining a yard. The Steelers only had slightly more success, as QB Ben Roethlisberger hooked up with WR Hines Ward for an eight-yard completion before the drive stalled out.
RB LenDale White recorded the first 1st down of the game when he caught a QB Kerry Collins swing pass for 12 yards on the second play of the ensuing possession. The Titans successfully moved the football through the air down to the Pittsburgh 42-yard line, but had to punt.
On their final drive of the quarter, the Steelers got RB Willie Parker rumbling, as he gashed through the Titans’ ‘D’ for five straight runs of at least four yards to get the ball closer to midfield. The quarter ended with Roethlisberger narrowly overthrowing WR Santonio Holmes for what would’ve been the game’s opening score.
TENNESSEE 0 PITTSBURGH 0
The drive wouldn’t go unrewarded as Roethlisberger started the second stanza by finding TE Heath Miller for a 21-yard pass play down the middle that set up K Jeff Reed’s 41-yard field goal for the game’s opening score. After holding the Titans to a 3-and-out, they set up shop on their own 36-yard line. Once again, thanks to a heavy dose of Parker, Pittsburgh had the ball moving. Reed appeared to have successfully booted his second field goal of the quarter, but he was roughed on the play to give the Steelers a new set of downs. Three plays later, Roethlisberger scrambled away from some pressure and rumbled for a 12-yard touchdown.
Once again, the Titans simply had nothing going on offense. RB Chris Johnson ran the ball twice for just five yards, and then Collins made the first mistake of the game. He was sacked and fumbled on a safety blitz by S Troy Polamalu. The Steelers recovered and started in prime field position just before the 2:00 warning. After throwing an incomplete pass and getting a three-yard run by Parker, Big Ben connected with Miller for the third down conversion. The UVA product followed that up by making a grab in the middle of the end zone with just 0:42 remaining in the first half to give the Steelers a commanding lead.
TENNESSEE 0 PITTSBURGH 17
Pittsburgh’s offense looked terrible to start the second half, as Roethlisberger was sacked by LB Keith Bulluck and suffered a holding penalty. After forcing the three-and-out, the Titans got the ball back just inside Pittsburgh territory. Finally, Tennessee started to show a pulse, and it was White doing the damage. He took a Collins screen pass for 21 yards to get the Titans in field goal range. After moving the ball down to the Pittsburgh 16, HC Jeff Fischer elected to go for it on 4th and 1. Not only did he gamble, but he play faked and sent Collins on a bootleg. The result was a wide open touchdown reception for TE Alge Crumpler.
The life was immediately sucked out of the Titans though, as DB Joe Burnett electrified Heinz Field by returning the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for the touchdown that restored the three-score lead. Neither team put together more than two first downs on a drive for the remainder of the quarter.
TENNESSEE 7 PITTSBURGH 24
The Titans started the fourth quarter with their backs against the wall. The Steelers held a 17-point lead and had the pigskin at the Tennessee 40. However, Roethlisberger’s efficient game was marred by a poor decision, as DB Michael Griffin intercepted an out route and was just one tackle away from taking it to the house. On the next drive, Collins found Crumpler on three balls to get the Titans inside Pittsburgh territory. However, it was yet another blitz that terminated the effort, as LB LaMarr Woodley got the sack, the forced fumble, and the fumble recovery on the same play.
After that, it was all Pittsburgh’s running game. The unit ran almost eight minutes off the clock, increasing its already dominant lead in TOP. The drive ended with a Reed field goal. Though Collins at least kept Tennessee’s offense moving a bit at game’s end, a failed fourth down conversion with just under 2:00 remaining was the final nail in the coffin.
FINAL SCORE: TENNESSEE7 PITTSBURGH 27
If this simulation is any indicator, the Steelers will easily cover the spread and the game will combine to just go under the total. You can grab Pittsburgh (-6.5) and under 34.5 at BetUS Sportsbook right now!
QB Kerry Collins: 13/27, 188 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT
QB Ben Roethlisberger: 16/22, 164 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
RB LenDale White: 9 carries, 22 yards, 0 TD, Long of 5
RB Willie Parker: 26 carries, 108 yards, 0 TD, Long of 14
TE Heath Miller: 6 catches, 61 yards, 1 TD, Long of 21
TE Alge Crumpler: 5 catches, 52 yards, 1 TD, Long of 16
|3RD DOWN CONV||2/9 (22.2%)||10/16 (62.5%)|
|TIME OF POSSESSION||22:18||37:42|