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Week 7 Steelers-Titans News & Notes

Updated: Oct 25, 2020



It will be a battle of two undefeated teams on Sunday in Nashville between the Steelers and Titans. According to NFL Research, the Steelers-Titans game on Sunday is the fifth game in NFL history between two undefeated teams in Week 7 or later (excluding strike seasons). The winner of the previous four such games went on to make the Super Bowl that season. Titans' head coach Mike Vrabel played in and won two such games with the Patriots.


- The Steelers are 46-32 all-time against the Titans/Oilers and are 9-13 against the franchise since they relocated to Tennessee as the Titans in 1997. Under Mike Tomlin, the Steelers are 5-3 against the Titans. Ben Roethlisberger is also 5-3 overall in his career against the Titans and is 1-2 when playing in Tennessee. Roethlisberger has a 4-4 touchdown/interception ratio in his three games played in Tennessee and has completed 70 of 111 (63.06%) passes for 899 yards. The Steelers last played in Tennessee in 2014, a game which Pittsburgh won, 27-24.


- The Steelers are 1.5-point underdogs against the Titans on Sunday and the over/under is 50.5 points, according to Oddsshark.com. It's the first time this season the Steelers are listed as underdogs. The game is a toss-up and the 1.5-point line in favor of the Titans really just has to with them being the home team. The total has gone under in eight of Pittsburgh's last nine games on the road and the over is 8-1 in Tennessee’s last nine home games, per Oddsshark.com. Both teams have scored at least 38 points in each of their last two games and are a combined 7-3 to the over this season.


- The Titans' offense is lead by Derrick Henry, who in five games played this year leads the league in rushing with 588 yards and is second in rushing touchdowns with six. Henry is coming off a game against the Texans on Sunday where he rushed for 212 yards on 22 carries (9.6 average) and two touchdowns, along with having two receptions for 52 yards. Henry broke off a 94-yard touchdown run against Houston, which made him the second player in NFL history with two touchdown runs of at least 94 yards. However, the Steelers rank No. 2 in run defense, allowing just 66.2 yards per game. Dating back to 2019, the Steelers rank first in the NFL in run stop win rate, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In that same span, Henry has an NFL-best 923 yards after contact.


"That is their bread and butter," Stephon Tuitt said on Thursday in a Zoom interview with the media. "They got a great back in Henry, and we have to make sure we limit him and stop him.


"They do a good job of running the ball. They have a great back who is putting up prolific numbers. They are very physical. Old school football. It's the type of game when you have to buckle your chin strap and come prepared and bring physicality to them."


When the Steelers played the Giants in Week 1, they shut down another premier running back in Saquon Barkley, allowing just 6 yards on 15 carries. The most yards they have allowed to a running back this year was to Miles Sanders of the Eagles, who rushed for 80 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown, but 74 of those yards came on that touchdown run in the first quarter.


"Any time you have a running back who can do great things, you want to take pride in it and stop the run up front," T.J. Watt said. "Those guys in the back end are more than willing to make those tackles against those great running backs. We definitely want to do the best that we can in the front to stop him before he gets to that level.


"He's a big back. I feel like we have faced a lot of really good backs, especially in my career. We face good running backs in practice in James Conner here. I think we are confident no matter who is on the other side of the football. We feel like our defense flies around. He's a really talented running back, don't get me wrong."


- According to Turron Davenport of ESPN, Tannehill has a 92.1 QBR and 12.2 yards per attempt on play-action, leading all quarterbacks since he took over as the starter in Week 7 last year. Tannehill also has 15 touchdown passes off play-action in that span, which ties Kirk Cousins for most in the league. Of Ryan Tannehill's 13 touchdown passes this year, 12 have come in the red zone. Five of those touchdown passes have gone to tight end Jonnu Smith.


- The Titans and Steelers both rank in the top five this year in points scored per game. Pittsburgh ranks fourth, averaging 31.2 points per game and Tennessee is second in the league, averaging 32.8 points per game. The Steelers have scored 38 points in their last two games and have scored at least 26 points in every game this season. The Titans have scored 42 points in their last two games and have scored at least 31 points in four straight games. The Titans average 422.0 yards per game, which ranks second in the league, while the Steelers rank 21st in total yards, averaging 358.0 yards per game.


The Titans are giving up a ton of yards on the ground this year, ranking 26th in run defense, allowing 137.0 yards per game. The Steelers rank ninth in rushing, averaging 136.8 yards per game. James Conner has rushed over 100 yards there times this year and has had a rushing touchdown in four straight games. The Titans also rank 28th in pass defense, allowing 272.8 yards per game, and in total yards allowed they are giving up 409.8 yards per game, which ranks 26th. However, Tennessee ranks 15th in points allowed, surrendering 25.2 points per game and are tied for third in takeaways with nine. Overall, the Titans are plus-6 in turnover differential, which is the third-best margin in the turnover/giveaway category.


In addition to the Steelers having the No. 2 run defense in the league this year, allowing just 66.2 yards per game. The Steelers rank second in yards allowed per game (285.2), eighth in passing yards allowed per game (219.0) and third in points allowed per game (18.8). Pittsburgh is plus-5 in turnover differential this year with nine takeaways and five giveaways, which is tied for fourth-best in the league.


- The Titans have been brutal in third-down defense and red zone defense this year. They are allowing their opponents to convert 57.81% of the time on third down, which ranks dead last in the league. They also rank 32nd in red zone defense, allowing their opponents to score touchdowns at 87.50%. Offensively they have managed to be efficient in both categories. Ranking sixth in third-down offense, converting 48.33% of the time, and are third in opponent red zone scoring percentage (78.26%), touchdowns only.


The Steelers are middle of the pack in both third-down defense and red zone defense this year, ranking 17th in opponent third-down conversion percentage (42.65%) and are allowing their opponents to score touchdowns at a 61.54% rate, which ranks 13th in the league. On offense, the Steelers rank 10th in third-down conversion percentage (45.95%) and are 18th in scoring touchdowns against their opponents in the red zone at a 63.16% rate.


- In just five games played, the Steelers are tied for first in the league in sacks with 24, while the Titans with also five games played are tied for allowing the fewest sacks in the league, giving up just six sacks. Tennesse will be without three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan on Sunday, as he suffered a season-ending ACL tear against the Texans in Week 6. Lewan's replacement at left tackle is expected to be Ty Sambrailo. Bud Dupree will line up against Sambrailo and could have a big day. On the second play that Sambrailo entered the game in place of Lewan in the third quarter, he gave up a strip-sack to J.J. Watt that Houston recovered and they would score a touchdown three plays later. The Steelers have allowed eight sacks this year for a loss of 78 yards, which ranks seventh in the league. The Titans have just seven sacks through five games, which is tied for the fourth-fewest in the league.


- After releasing Dustin Colquitt on Friday, the Steelers today signed back punter Jordan Berry after they released him in early September. In five games played, Colquitt ranked last in the league with a net punting average of 37.1 yards and was 29th in gross average (43.1). Berry hasn't always been consistent, which is why they released him and gave Colquitt the starting job before the start of the season. In five seasons with the Steelers, Berry has a net punting average of 39.9 yards and a gross average of 44.2 yards. Berry visited the Steelers on Monday, which makes him eligible to play on Sunday after a full week of COVID-19 testing. Along with re-signing Berry, the Steelers also announced that they’ve elevated running back Trey Edmunds and linebacker Jayrone Elliott from the practice squad to the 53-man roster for the Titans game.


- Derek Watt (hamstring) and Mike Hilton (shoulder) both didn't practice all week and were ruled out by the team for Sunday's game.


For the Titans, everybody was a full participant at practice on Friday and the players that were on the injury report this week are all likely to play on Sunday.

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