This week’s Thursday night NFL game takes us to Nashville, where Tennessee is set to host Pittsburgh on the NFL Network at 8:20 p.m. Eastern.
As of Wednesday afternoon, most betting shops had Pittsburgh (2-2 straight up, 1-3 against the spread) installed as a six-point favorite with a total of 43. Gamblers can take the Titans to win outright for a plus-200 return (risk $100 to win $200).
Pittsburgh came off an open date and got a last-second field goal from Shaun Suisham, who buried a 34-yard boot as time expired to lift his team to a 16-14 win as a four-point home ‘chalk.’ The Steelers disappointed their backers after leading 10-0 at intermission. The 30 combined points stayed ‘under’ the 44-point total.
Ben Roethlisberger completed 21-of-37 passes for 207 yards, while Rashard Mendenhall rushed 14 times for 81 yards and a 13-yard touchdown scamper. Antonio Brown hauled in seven receptions for 86 yards.
Prior to the win over the Eagles, Pittsburgh let a pair of second-half leads get away in losses at Denver (31-19) and at Oakland (34-31). Between those defeats, the Steelers captured a 27-10 home win over the Jets.
Along with Mendenhall and defensive end James Harrison, safety Troy Polamalu returned to the starting lineup last week after missing games with a calf injury. However, Polamalu aggravated his injury and is ‘out’ against the Titans.
Also, linebacker LaMarr Woodley is ‘doubtful’ with a hamstring injury. CB Ike Taylor is ‘questionable’ due to back pain.
Tennessee (1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS) can relate to the injury bug with starting quarterback Jake Locker ‘out’ for a second straight week with a shoulder injury. Without Locker, the Titans got pounded 30-7 at Minnesota last week.
Chris Johnson was limited to merely 24 rushing yards on 15 carries. Veteran back-up QB Matt Hasselbeck completed 26-of-43 passes for 200 yards with one TD and one interception. Rookie WR Kendall Wright had nine catches for 66 yards.
With the exception of a 44-41 home win over Detroit in overtime, Mike Munchak’s squad has been taking woodshed treatment on a weekly basis. Tennessee lost its season opener at home to New England by a 34-13 count as a 4 ½-point underdog. The Titans have been drilled in all three road games at San Diego (38-10), at Houston (38-14) and at Minnesota.
Tennessee is ranked last in the NFL in scoring defense, giving up 36.5 points per game.
For the year, Johnson has rushed for a pedestrian 210 yards on 73 totes. That equates to a meager 2.9 yards per carry.
For the season, Roethlisberger has connected on 65.6 percent of his throws for 1,111 yards with an 8/1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Brown has 25 catches for 326 yards and one touchdown, while Mike Wallace has made 19 receptions for 251 yards and three TDs.
Mike Tomlin’s team has beaten the Titans each of the last three seasons, including a 38-17 win as a three-point home favorite last season. Roethlisberger threw for 224 yards and five touchdowns.
The ‘over’ is 3-2 overall for the Titans, 1-1 in their home games. With that said, we should note that Tennessee’s two home games resulted in 47 combined points and 85.
The ‘over’ has hit in both of the Steelers’ road assignments.
Tennessee is 2-2 both SU and ATS as a home underdog on Munchak’s watch. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has limped to a 10-17-1 spread record as a road favorite during Tomlin’s six-year tenure.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--Tennessee is one of three home underdogs on the board in Week 6. The others are the Browns (+1 vs. the Bengals) and Seahawks (+3.5 vs. the Patriots).
--Seattle owns a 9-5 spread record in 14 games as a home underdog on Pete Carroll’s watch. The Seahawks have won outright in both of their home games this year as ‘dogs vs. Dallas and Green Bay.
--The only team favored by more than a touchdown in Week 6 is the Falcons, who are 8 ½-point home ‘chalk’ vs. the Raiders.
--Atlanta owns an 18-8-1 spread record as a home favorite during Mike Smith’s five-year tenure.
--Houston was the final remaining unbeaten team ATS until it failed to cover in Monday’s 23-17 win over the Jets as a 9 ½-point road favorite. There are now six teams with 4-1 spread records, including the Texans, Falcons, Rams, Bears, 49ers and Patriots.
--Detroit remains the only winless team ATS with a 0-4 ledger. The Lions, 4 ½-point ‘dogs Sunday at Philadelphia, are 8-11-2 ATS as road ‘dogs under Jim Schwartz.
--The ‘under’ is a perfect 5-0 for the Seahawks. They are second in the NFL in scoring defense, surrendering only 14.0 PPG.
--The ‘over’ is an NFL-best 4-1 overall for the Saints, Redskins and Bills.
--Minnesota WR Percy Harvin is enjoying an outstanding season to date and along with Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson, has played a huge role in the team’s surprising 4-1 start. Harvin has 814 all-purpose yards on 60 ‘touches’ (38 catches, 13 carries and nine kick returns), averaging 13.6 yards per touch.
Brian Edwards can be reached at email@example.com.
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