Tennessee Titans (0-0) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0), 8:30 p.m. EST,
Thursday, September 10, 2009, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa., TV: NBC
by Badger of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Tennessee +5/Pittsburgh -5
The 2009 National Football League season officially kicks off
Thursday night when the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers welcome the Tennessee Titans into Heinz Field for what should be a great AFC throw-down in primetime on NBC.
The Steelers played the most difficult schedule in the league last
year during their Super Bowl run, and it certainly doesnt get any
easier for them in 09 as they open up with the Titans, the team that
led the NFL last season with a 13-3 record. With virtually the same
roster of players back this season, the goal for the Steelers this
season is to simply try and not become complacent while everyone else
takes their shot at them.
All of the Titans success in 08 came at the price of a one-and-done playoff campaign, losing to Baltimore 13-10 in round two, something
they will work to avoid in the new season with nearly the same deep
and talented roster of veterans.
Oddsmakers are giving the Champion Steelers a lot of home-field love in the game, because the point spread opened with Pittsburgh as 5-
point favorites and the number has held firm, although there are a
few internet sportsbooks with the number at 5.5-points.
The over/under total opened at 36 and is currently listed anywhere
from 35.5 to 34.5 depending on where you wager.
But before youre eyes light up at that temptingly low total,
remember that this game features the top two defenses in the NFL in
08. The Steelers were No. 1 by allowing only 13.9 points per game,
but the Titans were ranked No. 2 at 14.6 points per game.
Pittsburghs defense under Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau picked
right up where it left off during the preseason, as the No. 1 unit did not
allow a single touchdown in the four exhibition games. And thats without
linebacker James Harrison, who has yet to play this year.
The Titans defense played five games in the preseason, so theyve
been so spaced out theyve hardly played together as a full unit much
in the late preseason. They also begin this season without stud
tackle Albert Haynesworth, so their run defense will no doubt get
tested immediately when the Steelers pound it to them on the ground.
Speaking of power running and forcing it down a defenders throat,
thats what both teams will be looking to do on offense.
Running back Willie Parker is still considered the Steelers starter,
but Rashard Mendenhall is healthy again after missing most of rookie
season last year and together the duo will give the Steelers plenty
of options in the run game this season. Quarterback Ben
Roethlisberger battled an ankle injury during the preseason, but
dont expect it to be a factor now that its for real.
The Titans have their own running back duo in Chris Johnson and
LenDale White, so quarterback Kerry Collins just has to manage the
game and take advantage of play-action, just as Roethlisberger must do.
The Titans won last years meeting between these two teams at home at
LP Field, 31-14, but the game was closer than the score indicates.
Ironically, it was the Titans defense that stepped up clutch getting
an 83-yard interception return for a score to seal it in the closing
seconds. The win gave Tennessee their fourth win in their last five
tries versus the Steelers, dating back to the 2002 season.
The Titans also covered in last years game as 1-point underdogs, the
third time they have covered in the same five-game span dating back
In head-to-head games with these two the over is actually 7-1 in
Pittsburgh and is 6-1 in the last seven games overall.
Some other betting trends to keep in mind before you venture to the
window: the Titans are 8-0 ATS in their last eight games in
September; the Steelers are 6-2 ATS in their last eight on grass; the
over is 13-4 in Pittsburghs last 17 games against the AFC.
Badgers Pick: This is going to be a great game to watch on opening
night, but its going to be a grinder. The current underdog spread covers key numbers of 3 and 4, which represents a large percentage of final score margins in the NFL. Take Tennessee plus the 5 points.