Steelers, Titans look to show they’re for real
By WILL GRAVES
The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers have a commanding lead in the AFC North and are in a two-way race with New England for homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs as Thanksgiving looms, exactly where they expected to be all along.
It just doesn’t necessarily feel like it.
While the Steelers (7-2) are hardly apologizing for their best start in head coach Mike Tomlin’s decade-long tenure, they’d love a little bit of style to go with all that substance. Narrow escapes such as last week’s 20-17 victory over struggling Indianapolis are starting to get a little old.
The $92 million offense that includes the highest-paid (and most productive) wide receiver and running back in the NFL is averaging just 20 points a week. The Steelers are one of just five teams that haven’t reached the 30-point plateau all season.
“We’re still saying we have to get better but eventually we’ve got to do it,” star wideout Antonio Brown said.
Like Pittsburgh, surprising Tennessee (6-3) is looking to send a message that its progress in coach Mike Mularkey’s second season isn’t a mirage.
The Titans bring a four-game winning streak into Thursday night’s meeting in Pittsburgh, though the four victories are against teams that are a combined 10-27.
“I think it’s going to be a big measuring stick for our team to see where we’re at,” Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker said.
Playing under the lights seems to agree with Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota, who will be playing his fourth prime-time game since entering the league in 2015.
Mariota has a 105.4 passer rating with three touchdowns and only one interception, the fifth-highest in the NFL for quarterbacks with a minimum of three prime-time starts. He trails only Ben Roethlisberger with a league-best 121.7, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (109.3), New England’s Tom Brady (106.6) and New Orleans’ Drew Brees (105.5).
NFL on TV
3:25 p.m.–Tennessee at Pittsburgh, NBC/NFLN
8 a.m.–L.A. Rams at Minnesota, FOX
8 a.m.–Kansas City at N.Y. Giants, CBS
11:25 a.m.–New England vs. Oakland at Mexico City, CBS
3:30 p.m.–Philadelphia at Dallas, NBC
3:30 p.m.–Atlanta at Seattle, ESPN