Five Things to Watch: Titans vs. Steelers


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans (2-7) are the main ticket in town Monday night as the Pittsburgh Steelers make their way to LP Field for Tennessee's only primetime game at home this season.

Tennessee has won four consecutive Monday night games and is 10-5 on Monday Night Football since 1999. That's the NFL's third-best winning percentage on Monday night behind only the Steelers and Seahawks in that time span.

The Steelers lead the all time series 44-32, but the Titans won the last two meetings between the teams. The most recent came in the 2013 season opener at Heinz Field, where the Titans snapped Pittsburgh's 10-game winning streak in home openers with a 26-23 victory.

Pittsburgh enters Week 11 with a 6-4 record, tied with the Ravens for third place in the AFC North. The Steelers own the NFL's 13th ranked total defense and the league's fifth ranked offense.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger trails only Andrew Luck with 3,063 passing yards, and 12 of his 23 touchdowns came in back-to-back weeks against the Colts and Ravens (six touchdowns in each). Big Ben has thrown for over 300 yards in three consecutive games.

Le'Veon Bell is the NFL's third leading rushing with 747 yards and also has 55 receptions for 466 yards.

The Steelers will look to avenge a disappointing 20-13 loss to the Jets in Week 10, a game in which they turned the ball four times and had a three-game winning streak snapped in the process.

Milestones on the Horizon

• Kendall Wright needs three receptions to reach 200 for his career (197) and one touchdown to establish a new career high (four touchdowns in 2014). 

• Nate Washington needs 84 receiving yards to reach 6,000 for his career (5,916).

• Jurrell Casey needs eight tackles to reach 300 for his career (292).

Five Things to Watch


  1. Play to the Whistle**

Of all Ben Roethlisberger's talents, his ability to extend the play with his strength and pocket awareness may be his most dangerous. Each week, the Steelers have a few explosive plays where Big Ben escapes the pocket, allowing his receivers to lose opposing defensive backs.

Razor-sharp focus will be crucial for Jason McCourty, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, and the rest of the Titans secondary.

2. Protect Mettenberger

Zach Mettenberger picked apart Baltimore's defense last week in the first 15 minutes. The rookie completed eight-of-11 first quarter passes to six different receivers for 98 yards and a touchdown. The offensive line gave Mettenberger a clean pocket to throw and the rookie QB took advantage.

The Ravens were able to bring pressure in the final three quarters, sacking Mettenberger five times and hitting him a total of eight times. Keeping the QB's jersey clean will go a long way in sustained success for Tennessee's offense.

3. Jason McCourty vs. Antonio Brown

McCourty continued to show last week why he's the Titans' top cornerback, holding Ravens receiver Steve Smith to a season-low three catches for 17 yards on seven targets.

He'll have his hands full again Monday night going against the league's top receiver this season. Antonio Brown leads the NFL with 79 receptions for 1,070 yards and has already matched a career high with eight touchdowns.

The Steelers top receiver is currently riding a 26-game streak with at least five catches for 50 yards. Pittsburgh uses Brown in a number of ways in order to get the ball in his hands. The lefty even has a touchdown pass this season on a three-yard strike to Lance Moore on a reverse.

This is the top one-on-one matchup to watch Monday night.


  1. Establish & Maintain a Ground Game**

Similar to the Titans' ability to protect Mettenberger against the Ravens, the running game was cooking in the first quarter. Bishop Sankey's first run of the game went for 11 yards and the rookie finished the opening quarter with nine carries for 38 yards. Sankey was only able to gain 17 yards on seven carries the rest of the way, finishing with 55 yards for the game.

The Titans haven't run for over 100 yards as a team since Week 5 against Cleveland, a span of four straight games under the century mark.

5. Inactive List

Leon Washington, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Sammie Hill, Dexter McCluster and Delanie Walker are all listed as questionable for Monday night.

Walker has yet to be cleared through the league's concussion protocol, while the others are dealing with various nicks. 

If both Washington and McCluster can't go, Kendall Wright will return punts and Bishop Sankey is likely to return kicks. Wright returned punts while at Baylor and Sankey has been getting reps at kick returner since training camp.

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