Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans, Oct 11, 2012

Pittsburgh Steelers (-6) at Tennessee Titans (+6), Over/Under 43.5

The Steelers and Titans are off to slow starts. The Titans have won only 1 game but have played the toughest schedule to date. The Steelers have played a relatively soft schedule; including an early bye week.

The Steelers (2-2) are coming off a late win versus the in-state rival Philadelphia Eagles.  The Steelers didn’t cover the spread but did get a much-needed win off the bye week. The Steelers average 5.3 yards per play (YPP) and 15.0 yards per point scored (YPPT) on offense.  On defense, they allow 5.3 YPP and 12.6 YPPT.  The Steelers defense is less efficient than previous years. QB Ben Roethlisberger averages 7.11 yards per attempt (YPA) for 9 TDs and 1 INTs with a 102.9 QB rating.  Roethlisberger’s YPA is down but his TD/INT ratio is excellent.

The Titans (1-4) have lost 2 straight games and all 5 opponents have scored 30 or more points this season.  The Titans average 5.4 YPP and 17.3 YPPT on offense.  On defense, they allow 6.0 YPP and 11.3 YPPT.  QB Matt Hasselback averages a low 5.52 YPA for 3 TDs and 3 INTs with a 73.6 QB rating.  The Titans are the home underdog in a Thursday night non-divisional game and in desperate need of a win.  The Steelers are playing on the road in a game between the Eagles and division foe Cincinnati.

The Sagarin Ratings have Pittsburgh 22.91 and Cincinnati 13.88.  With the 3.51 home advantage, the fair line is Pittsburgh -5.5.  According to pregame.com, 74% of spread bets are on the Steelers and the Over/Under is split 50/50.  The spread opened at Steelers -6 and in some places moved slightly to -6.5 or -7 (depending on the book(s) you follow); the total has moved from 44 to 43.5.  A majority of bets are on the Steelers, but the line hasn’t firmly made its way to the key number 7.

My NFL model predicts Pittsburgh 28.5 over Tennessee 18.2 for 46.7 total points.  Both teams have been mediocre on offense and under performed on defense.  The Steelers are more efficient on both sides of the ball.  Tennessee gives up more than twice as many rushing yards than they gain.  Pittsburgh should win this game but has to run the ball well. Tennessee has to run the ball better, limit turnovers, and play some semblance of defense to have a chance to win or cover.

The point spread may be a bit high for Pittsburgh. Here’s why. Tennessee has looked dreadful. But they have played a much tougher schedule (opened with the Patriots and played the Chargers, Texans and Vikings on the road). They are a home underdog on a Thursday night. The Steelers are coming off a tough win against the Eagles on a short week and follow this game with a division game. Pittsburgh’s defense hasn’t been as good as we’ve seen in the past and Polamalu and Woodley remain out. Bet Tennessee plus the points (as of this writing sportsbook.ag has Titans +7 -115). Try to get the 7 and don’t take less than 6.

Follow me on Twitter for all my picks.  Good Luck!

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