Each week throughout the NFL season, Keezy W will pick what he feels is the best game of the week based on importance, rivalry, and/or subplot. He shall attempt to analyze key match-ups and make a pick.
Tennessee Titans vs Pittsburgh Steelers, Thursday 8:30pm
It’s the first game of the season and the NFL did a great job with making this the game to kickoff the 2009 season. These two teams have developed quite a rivalry throughout the decade, meeting seven times since 2001 with the Titans leading the series 4 – 3. Last year the then, 12-2 Titans came into “The Big Ketchup Bottle” and stomped out everything black and gold, including Pittsburgh’s beloved Terrible Towel, to the tune of 31 -14 and clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs in the process.
The Steelers as we all know end up getting the last laugh by winning the memorable Superbowl XLIII, while Jeff Fisher and his crew once again fell short of a championship by losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Titans Running Game vs Pittsburgh Defense: For the Titans to have any chance in thia game, they MUST run the ball. With Kerry Collins still without a legitimate receiver to throw the ball to, expect to see a lot of 8 and 9 man fronts from the Steelers to deal with the likes of Chris Johnson and LenDale White. If the Titans can establish a running game, that would give them the opportunity to attack the one weakness in the Steelers D, through the air with play-action.
Cortland Finnegan vs Hines Ward/Santonio Holmes: Finnegan who is overrated, just like many other corner backs in the NFL these days, will have his hands full with whichever Steelers reciever he has to attempt to defend. Whether it’s the speedy Holmes or physical Ward, it will not be an easy cover for Finnegan.
Titans Defense: How will one of the top defenses of last year hold up without arguably its best player in Albert Haynesworth? Long time Titan, Keith Bulluck will have to rely on the help of this mixed group of veterans and young guns to make the same impact as they did last year.
Steelers 17, Titans 14, in a close one. I don’t see either team achieving a blowout as the Titans did last year. But I do think that Kerry Collins will struggle this year and definitely in this game with the Steelers stacking 8 man fronts to slow down Chris Johnson. Big Ben comes through with a late 4th quarter drive that gets the champs’ 2009 campaign started off on the right foot.