The Tennessee Titans were talked about quite a bit this time a year ago. Marcus Mariota was coming into his third-year as an NFL quarterback in Tennessee with success in his rookie and sophomore campaigns. It was then expected that the Titans were going to start to see results from a team standpoint as well. It never really materialized in Nashville, as they finished a disappointing 9-7 and Mariota wavered.
Tennessee did happen to reach the playoffs due to a down year in the AFC South. They overcame an 18-point hole to upset the Chiefs in the Wild Card Round. However, the celebration was short lived after a meeting with the Patriots the following week. Despite winning a playoff game, the season didn’t feel like that much of a success.
Mariota threw just 13 touchdowns with 15 interceptions. He also rushed for 312 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. It’s the first time in his career, including college that he’s thrown more interceptions that touchdowns. Mariota has to be operating at a high-level of play for the Titans to excel. He didn’t have much help in the passing game, but the Titans hope that Corey Davis can help out in 2018.
Davis was a highly touted rookie out of Western Michigan a year ago, but his year was hampered by a hamstring injury throughout the year. He managed to make appearances in eleven games, and ultimately finished with 375 yards and no touchdowns. The Titans are expecting him to emerge as a serious threat in 2018 and become the true number 1 for Mariota. The Steelers have their quarterback and number 1 locked down. Ben Roethlisberger will go into his 14th season in the NFL after getting drafted by the Steelers in 2004. Roethlisberger is expected to start against the Titans, but Antonio Brown is not going to get a go. There is no reason to play him in the preseason. Get our free Titans vs. Steelers pick below.
Tennessee Titans vs. Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Preseason Betting Odds:
vs. Steelers -4(-110)
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Titans vs. Steelers Pick:
Ben Roethlisberger obviously has the first-team job under wraps. As long as he doesn’t retire, Ben is going to be the starting quarterback in Pittsburgh. By the sounds of Mike Tomlin, he isn’t thrilled with the idea of playing Roethlisberger in the preseason or any of his starters for that matter. Along with Roethlisberger, the Steelers just want Maurkice Pouncey and Joe Haden to get their feet wet. They can all play football and don’t need the preseason to prove that. However, just from a mental standpoint of getting ready for a game and getting into the routine can help. There is a quarterback battle behind Roethlisberger, but in all likelihood, the backup job is going to go to Landry Jones.
Jones has the most experience out of three guys vying to backup Roethlisberger and has been the backup for five years now. However, Jones clearly isn’t the future starting quarterback. The Steelers are looking at Mason Rudolph to be that guy. I’ve never been a fan of Big-12 quarterbacks in the NFL and Rudolph is no different. They sure are entertaining in college playing against those shoddy defenses, but it gets much harder at the professional level. Josh Dobbs is also in the mix for a job with the Steelers, but by drafting Rudolph I think the Steelers have shown their hand already.
Jones is slated to go into the game following Roethlisberger. Tomlin hasn’t stated how long he is going to go with Ben for. We’ll assume less than a half of play given how Tomlin doesn’t care for the first-team getting extra work in the preseason. This is the first work Roethlisberger is going to see in the preseason, as well as Pouncey, Haden, and Cam Heyward. Tomlin also hasn’t revealed what he’s doing after Jones plays. Dobbs and Rudolph may split playing duties in the 4th quarter.
It’s looking clearer for the Titans, who will likely see their starter play longer than Roethlisberger. Mariota sees the first-half, while Blaine Gabbert will see most of the second-half, with rookie Luke Falk finishing up. Gabbert, despite getting criticized for much of his career, is a serviceable backup QB. I expect rookie head coach, Mike Vrabel, to treat this dress rehearsal more seriously than Tomlin will. With that said, I will more comfortable taking the points on the Titans.