It’s time for another week of Should I Watch the Thing? Last week’s game ended up as a bit of a disappointment. It wasn’t a bad game; the Seattle Seahawks came out with a win over the Arizona Cardinals 22-16, but most of the game was marred by injuries on both sides, especially the Seahawks, who lost Richard Sherman for the season. Not a good time.
Things should be better this week. In fact, this might be the best Thursday Night matchup since week 1. The Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Tennessee Titans in a huge game for the AFC. It’s go-time.
Playoff implications: huge. As we highlighted in the NFL Midseason Review on Tuesday, the Steelers sit atop the AFC at 7-2, with the Titans a game behind at 6-3. With a victory, the Steelers can maintain control over the #1 seed for another week. The Titans can change the complexion of the conference with an upset.
There are division implications as well. The Titans are tied with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the lead in the AFC South; a loss would be a fairly big setback.
3 points out of 3
Division rivalry/past history: there are no division ties here, unless you want to count the Titans’ past as the Houston Oilers or the three years the two were in the AFC Central together. Since the Titans moved to Nashville, they lead the series 9-7.
0.5 points out of 2 (3.5 out of 5 points total)
Team quality: their records tell the whole story. The Steelers are arguably the most well-rounded team in the AFC on both sides of the ball. Meanwhile, the Titans have found their footing on that front as well. In addition, both teams are on a four-game winning streak, and unlike other squads, haven’t been hit too hard by the injury bug.
2 points out of 2 (5.5 out of 7 points total)
Offensive showcase potential: the Steelers definitely have the edge here. It’s hard for most defenses to slow down the trio of Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. On the Titans side of things, Marcus Mariota has been productive but has yet to take the next step into truly elite status. Their running game, headed by DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, is solid, however.
1.5 points out of 2 (7 out of 9 points total)
Must-see players/record watches: plenty of talented players on both teams to tune in for. Along with the previously mentioned players for the Steelers on offense, JuJu Smith-Schuster is really coming on as a rookie wide receiver. Ryan Shazier is also having a terrific year at inside linebacker.
More recognition needs to be given for Delanie Walker on the Titans; he’s been outstanding as both a blocker and a receiving tight end. Jurrell Casey and Kevin Byard are both having career years on defense, especially the latter, who leads the NFL in interceptions.
On the record watch front, Brown needs 112 receiving yards to hit 1000 this season.
1 point out of 1 (8 out of 10 points total)
All things considered, this should be an excellent game to watch. Both teams matchup well against each other, and there are gigantic playoff implications on the line. You should definitely tune in if you’re able to.