The 1-0 Steelers travel to LP Field to take on the Titans Sunday, this coming off a 15-9 win in OT vs the Falcons in week one. The team admits they have plenty to work on this week, and also have to deal with a new starter on the O-line as Max Starks will miss the game. Here’s our keys and finally our prediction for the game between two of the better clubs in the AFC.
1. Survive the Storm – The Steelers found themselves down 10-0 to the Titans two years ago in Nashville, and this time it would be in their best interest to get off to a good start. Setting the tempo against the Titans is key, and if they can hold Vince Young and Chris Johnson in check early it will send a message that the Steelers are there to play.
2. Dixon’s legs – We saw nothing from Dennis Dixon when it comes to running the football on Sunday against the Falcons, and here’s a vote that Bruce Arians has a few run calls in for his QB that has been known to make plays with his feet. The Steelers O-line did a decent job last week giving him time, but when things break down in the pocket, it would be nice to see Dixon try to use his feet more than trying to force the ball.
3. Avoid the Big Play Mistakes – Chris Johnson is the master of the long runs it seems these days, and while the Steelers have done a great job against him (under 80 yards the two times the teams played), they can’t get sloppy and allow big plays. Johnson can get 100 yards, that’s fine, as long as they are on about 30 carries and the Steelers keep him bottled up. The Steelers run D did a great job vs Michael Turner, and this week the challenge will be even bigger.
4. Patience in the run game – Plenty of Steelers players pointed out how happy they were the team stuck with the run game Sunday instead of going away from it even when things didn’t go their way. It paid off with the big 50-yard OT run, and this week they have to stay dedicated to it again. Rashard Mendenhall can set up for a big day vs the Titans run D, and Arians has to make sure to keep feeding him the ball, plus it keeps Young and Johnson off the field.
Prediction – On the road this is going to be a very tough test. Young is playing at a high level, and while Dixon played better in the 2nd half vs Atlanta, this is going to be a true challenge for him to step up and get the job done in Tennessee. The Titans have won 9 of their last 11 since their 0-6 start a season ago, and with Johnson looking for 2500 yards in 2010, and Young using his legs and arm to do damage, the Steelers will find themselves on the short end in this week two test. Tennessee 17 Steelers 14