On Thursday (11/2/23), the Pittsburgh Steelers play host to the Tennessee Titans at 8:25 p.m. in a prime-time slug fest. In this article, find the latest betting odds for the game and a full matchup preview. In addition, find our best bet which is under 36.5 points.
Tennessee Titans Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Prediction
On Sunday, rookie quarterback Will Levis led the Titans to a win in his debut. He finished with four passing touchdowns, and it was just the second time since 1970 that a quarterback has done that in their first game in the NFL. Excitement is understandably high in Nashville, but let’s take a look under the hood.
The Titans’ coaching staff smartly understood that the Falcons would load the box to stop the run and dare Levis to beat them over the top. Tennessee embraced it, and Levis had three of the 10 longest touchdown passes by air yards this season. All four touchdowns were long and all four were on early downs.
Outside of those four passing touchdowns, he was just 15 of 25 passing for 81 yards with a putrid 3.2 YPA clip. Overall, his 36.8% success rate would be the worst in the NFL among 38 qualified passers. On a down-to-down basis, he simply wasn’t very good, and I don’t expect the Steelers to give him the same opportunities over the top.
As Levis makes his first road start, I expect a much tougher environment. Pittsburgh blitzes at the fifth-highest rate in the NFL. T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith won’t afford Levis time in the pocket to hit those receivers deep downfield like he did last week. This all isn’t to say Levis can’t be the Titans’ future at the position, but regression is inevitable.
Meanwhile, the Steelers’ offense has been inept for most of the season. They have scored 20+ offensive points just twice all season – their win over the Cleveland Browns featured two defensive touchdowns. Over their last four games, they are averaging just over 14 points per game. Now, starting quarterback Kenny Pickett is dealing with a rib injury.
Pickett very well could give it a go, but I’m not sure how much it matters in this Matt Canada-coached offense. Pittsburgh is 29th in offensive EPA and 31st in success rate this season, and while Tennessee’s secondary has been vulnerable at times, I don’t trust the Steelers to reliably take advantage.
If Pickett is a full go here, I lean toward the Steelers getting the home win, but I’ll just stick with another prime-time under. So far this season, the under has hit at a robust 71% rate in prime-time games. Per BetLabs, unders of 40 or fewer points in Thursday night games have hit at a 17-4 rate (81%) since 2010. Bet on these defenses standing tall on Thursday.
Tennessee Titans Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Prediction: Under 36.5 Points
Tennessee Titans Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Best Odds
The Steelers are currently sitting as 3-point favorites in this game, and I recommend paying attention to the injury report as Kenny Pickett’s status could affect the spread. The same could be true for the total which currently sits at a disgustingly low 36.5 points. 37 is a relatively key number in betting totals, so try to bet the under at that number if you can.
Tennessee Titans Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Key Injuries
The biggest injury news for this game comes on the Steelers side with safety Minkah Fitzpatrick ruled out with a hamstring injury. Quarterback Kenny Pickett’s status is also in question after he left last week’s game with a ribs injury. Tennessee, meanwhile, could be without its quarterback as Will Levis might be stealing the starting job from an injured Ryan Tannehill.
Tennessee Titans Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Key Matchups
We might not see fireworks between Will Levis and Mitchell Trubisky on Thursday night, but there will be some key matchups to look out for that will play a part in determining the outcome of the game. Let’s break them down.
Derrick Henry Vs. Steelers Run Defense
Derrick Henry is currently listed on the injury report with an ankle issue and he’s been linked in potential trades before the Tuesday deadline. But I expect him to be on the field on Thursday night. He’s coming off his second 100-yard rushing performance of the season, and the Titans will lean on him with Levis making his first road start.
The Steelers are expecting former All-Pro defensive tackle Cameron Heyward back in the lineup this week, which is a huge boost for their run defense. Heyward has been on the IR with a groin injury since Week 1, but he was close to returning last week. Heyward provides a boost for a run defense that needs one – the Steelers rank just 17th in rushing EPA allowed.
George Pickens Vs. Titans Secondary
The Steelers don’t generate many big plays offensively, but when they do, it’s usually because of George Pickens. He’s coming off a season-low 22 receiving yards against the Jaguars in a game where Diontae Johnson returned and saw 14 targets. The target share has to be monitored moving forward as Pickens was on the cusp of a true second-year breakout while Johnson was injured.
The Titans will provide Pickens big-play opportunities on Sunday as they rank 26th in dropback EPA allowed. Johnson provides consistent route running and reliable hands for the Steelers, but it’s clear that Pickens is the most talented player on this offense, and he should get all the targets he can handle in a game where running the ball won’t be easy for Pittsburgh.