Let’s take a closer look at the NFL betting odds for this AFC Week 1 matchup at Heinz Field on Sunday, Sept. 8, with the opening kickoff scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS.
Too many points
Tennessee finished the 2012 season with a 6-10 straight up and against-the-spread record, while going OVER the total in nine of 16 opportunities.
The Titans allowed a franchise-record 471 points last year, with the pass and run defense ranking 26th and 24th in the league respectively.
Pittsburgh is normally making a run at the Super Bowl—not finishing with a 8-8 straight up and 6-9-1 against-the-spread record. The team posted a 6-3 record through its first nine games, but was eliminated from playoff contention in dropping five of its final seven contests.
The Steelers did finish first defensively in allowing just 275.8 yards per game, while sitting sixth in surrendering 19.6 points per game.
Johnson is talking a big game again
NFL handicappers may become interested in backing the Titans again if running back Chris Johnson can return to his 2009 form, which saw the former Central Florida star gain 2,006 yards on the ground.
I’m not sold on his commitment to the team after signing a major contract extension in 2011, considering he’s failed to rush for more than 1,400 yards in each of the past three seasons.
Success may come down to the offensive line
With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger undergoing minor surgery on his right knee Wednesday, it’s imperative that Pittsburgh’s offensive line gels quickly during the offseason and preseason.
The group features four players that have been drafted between 2010-12, as they prepare to protect a signal-caller that has played just one full season in a nine-year career.
Expect the Steelers to feature the running game early on in 2013—something that second-year offensive coordinator Todd Haley has mentioned in the offseason.
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Titans as one of their early Week 1 NFL picks, as third-year quarterback Jake Locker takes over as the official leader of the offense, while the Steelers are revamping an aging roster.
NFL Week 1 Pick: Tennessee Titans +6.5 at Bet 365