LG Willie Colon vs. DT Mike Martin
The Titans rotate their defensive linemen frequently, but their base attack will have Martin off Colon’s inside shoulder. On a defense that’s struggling to make tackles, the front four is doing a better job of it than the back seven. Martin has been a high point for the Titans, a rookie drafted in the third round out of Michigan.
Colon picked up multiple holding penalties against the gap-shooting interior defensive linemen of the Eagles. The Titans’ defensive line plays more straight up, but they will try to get inside Colon on passing downs. It’s an advantage they have to exploit if they hope to slow down the Steelers’ passing game, which has a strong advantage in this contest.
RB Rashard Mendenhall vs. SS Michael Griffin
Mendenhall’s 101 yards from scrimmage were exactly what this offense needed from a running back in the Steelers’ Week 5 win over Philadelphia. He didn’t run like his knee was 100 percent prepared, but judging his performance based on that, and his vision and ability to fall forward, Mendenhall was outstanding. Against a Titans defense that is struggling to tackle in the open field, Mendenhall has the opportunity to have another big game.
The Titans’ front seven hasn’t been bolstered in run defense by its secondary. Griffin is a better run supporter than he’s shown so far this season, and his key in this game is going to be playing physical with Mendenhall in the box, not allowing him to squirt forward for another two yards after contact. Griffin standing Mendenhall up, and forcing the Steelers into second-and-8 as opposed to second-and-6 will be a big factor in this game.
S Ryan Mundy vs. QB Matt Hasselbeck
Hasselbeck is a savvy veteran, and it looked like he was shaking off some rust during the Titans’ 30-7 loss at Minnesota in Week 5. It was his first start in 2012, replacing Jake Locker, who was out with the same shoulder injury preventing him from playing tonight. The Titans’ offense became very short and Hasselbeck averaged 4.7 yards per attempt.
Mundy has struggled with his open-field tackling, and along with those concerns he’ll have to worry about a Titans team playing with nothing to lose. They’ll also have a healthy Kenny Britt split out wide. Odds are good the Titans will look to exploit Mundy both deep down the field and in any position where they’ll force Mundy to make a play.
Steelers cornerbacks vs. WR Kenny Britt
If Britt’s ankle is in fact healthy (he only played 29 snaps against the Vikings), the Titans will look to get their best playmaker the ball deep. The Steelers have match-up advantages all over the field in this game, but Britt’s size and advantage make him a difficult assignment for anyone.
They’ll likely go after Ike Taylor outside the numbers early in the game, something many teams have done recently, looking to draw an early penalty. Taylor has been penalized at least once in each of the Steelers’ four games this season. They’ll likely move Britt around the formation, looking to force the deep secondary’s intentions in pre-snap.