The 2-2 Pittsburgh Steelers will battle the slumping 1-4 Tennessee Titans at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday night.
The Steelers are coming off a last second FG that led to a 16-14 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, and a strong defensive effort that held Eagles running back LeSean McCoy to only 53 yards on 16 carries. The Steelers will lean on running back Rashard Mendenhall against a Titan defense that is giving up 162 yards a game on the ground.
The Titans will look to end their two-game losing streak, as they are coming off a 30-7 blowout loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Titans allowed Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder to throw for 258 yards and two touchdowns, and will face another tough challenge against Ben Roethlisberger this week.
Here are three things that will happen in Thursday night's game that may surprise you...
1. Matt Hasselbeck will throw for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
The Steelers rank 14th in the NFL in passing defense, allowing only 240 yards per game. However, Troy Polamalu and Lamar Woodley are both expected to miss this week's game.
The Steelers gave up a whopping 34 points in Week 3 to a weak Oakland Raiders team without Polamalu, and will again struggle to keep opposing quarterback Matt Hasselbeck from throwing frequently. Given how poorly Chris Johnson and the Titans ground attack has been, Hasselbeck will have to throw early and often if the Titans have any chance at winning this week.
2. The Steelers won't win by more than a touchdown.
When looking at the Titans record at 1-4, it is easy to count them out of this game before it even starts. However, the Titans four losses have come at the hands of the Patriots, Chargers, Texans and Vikings, who have a combined record of 15-5. Meanwhile, the Steelers have lost to both the Broncos and the Raiders, and have only beaten a bad Jets team and an Eagles team at home by two points. Both of the Steelers losses have come on the road, and they will be on the road again this week in Tennessee. The Titans crowd will help back their underdog at home, on a nationally televised Thursday night contest.
3. Ben Roethlisberger will throw for less than 250 yards.
Last week versus the Eagles, Roethlisberger threw for only 207 yards and completed only 21 of 37 passes. This week, he faces another solid passing defense in the Titans that allows an average of 228 yards a game through the air, which is good for 13th in the NFL. Roethlisberger has already struggled so far this season, and has thrown for more than 275 yards just once this year against a bad Oakland secondary. The Steelers will try to win the game on the ground against a weak Titan run defense, which will ultimately limit Roethlisberger's passing attempts.
Traveling to Tennessee this week will be tougher for the Steelers than most people think, but they will still manage to come away with a victory by the score of 20-14 on Thursday night.