Titans-Steelers Odds, Predictions, Picks: Betting Preview Feat. Top Moneyline Underdog Play For Week 15 Matchup
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Vrabel.
- Titans vs. Steelers odds have moved since our analyst wrote the following guide to betting this Week 15 matchup.
- The spread has flipped the Titans from -1.5 favorites to +1 underdogs. The good news? It's created even more value on our analyst's pick.
- Read his case for betting on this now-moneyline underdog below.
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via Parx. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
The theme of Week 15 in the NFL is the number of games being heavily affected by COVID.
But the secondary theme? There are a lot of win-or-go-home contests.
The Pittsburgh Steelers certainly find themselves in that second category. Following a disappointing loss to Minnesota, the Steelers stand at 6-6-1 with their playoff hopes dwindling. Pittsburgh still has trips to Kansas City and Baltimore, as well as a visit from rival Cleveland (if the Browns can field a team by then).
Tennessee has a similar urgency. Indianapolis has gotten hot, cutting the Titans’ huge AFC South lead down to two games. Tennessee still has a game against Houston before potentially tricky games against Miami and San Francisco to close the regular season.
Motivation will not be an issue in this game, so which side should bettors be on? A strong market move toward Pittsburgh would signal that the Steelers have an edge. The Titans have an underrated defense and potentially improving offense, though, giving them a fighter’s chance here.
Let’s dig in.
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Titans vs. Steelers Injury Report
- FB Tory Carter (ankle): Out
- CB Jackrabbit Jenkins (ankle): Out
- LB David Long Jr. (hamstring): Out
- DL Larrell Murchison (knee): Out
- G Rodger Saffold III (shoulder): Out
- DT Teair Tart (ankle): Out
- G/C Aaron Brewer (toe): Questionable
- LB Buddy Johnson (foot): Out
- CN Joe Haden (foot): Questionable
- TE Kevin Rader (hip): Questionable
- DE Isaiah Buggs (ankle): Questionable
Titans vs. Steelers Matchup
|Titans Offense||DVOA Rank||Steelers Defense|
|Titans Defense||DVOA Rank||Steelers Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Titans Defense Remains Underrated
Going into the season, many would have expected the Titans to be stronger offensively compared to their defense. The Tennessee defense was a unit that was extremely porous in 2020 and had to win games behind Derrick Henry, Ryan Tannehill and its offense.
Then, in the offseason, the Titans lost a handful of players in the secondary, and the only noteworthy signings were rookie cornerback Caleb Farley (injured) and linebacker Bud Dupree (injured). Expectations for this unit were low.
So, how has the Titans defense performed? Well, it ranks sixth in Expected Points Added (EPA) per rush, fifth in dropback Success Rate and just outside the top 10 in pressure rate.
The Tennessee front four — led by Jeffrey Simmons and Denico Autry — has been able to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks without blitzing much. The cornerbacks? Kristian Fulton has been exemplary, as has rookie Elijah Molden. At safety, Kevin Byard has returned to his All-Pro form.
This unit still has some significant injury problems in the middle of the field, but a dominant front four means they haven’t hurt the run defense much.
This Steelers offense is certainly manageable for this unit. Pittsburgh ranks 30th in Success Rate, including 30th in dropback Success Rate despite building the offense around short passing and running the ball.
Yes, the skill-position players are good, but Ben Roethlisberger’s limitations and a bad offensive line have led to a slow death for the offense. Tennessee should be able to get pressure on Roethlisberger and disrupt what Pittsburgh wants to do.
What Happened to Steelers Defense?
The Steelers defense was the best in the NFL by most metrics last season. So while many expected regression, nobody could’ve predicted how far this unit would fall this year. Pittsburgh is currently 28th in EPA per play allowed and dead last in EPA per rush.
For a team that has prided itself on defense for a long time, these numbers are unheard for the Pittsburgh faithful.
How has this happened? It starts with injuries. Stephon Tuitt remains out, and T.J. Watt has been injured on and off for long stretches of this season, as has Cameron Hayward. The linebacking corps is not what it once was with Devin Bush struggling. The young corners have been underwhelming.
Everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong.
Watt is back in the lineup this weekend, which is a huge boost. The Steelers’ pressure rates and run stuff rates are far better with Watt on the field. Cornerback Joe Haden appears set to return, as well.
Can Pittsburgh hold off the Tennessee offense? This Titans unit has been completely decimated by injuries, and the offense has been extremely suspect since Henry got hurt. Wide receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones have spent significant time on the sidelines, and the offensive line hasn’t been at 100%.
There are signs that this unit can move the ball in this game, though. Since Henry’s injury, Tennessee’s offense is 23rd in EPA per play and 14th in Success Rate. This passing game has been able to get it done to some extent, relying on short, quick throws and play action to move the ball.
The Titans’ offensive line will have to handle Watt, which it will try to do with tight ends and running backs helping an iffy unit that ranks 21st in pass block win rate.
On the whole, with Jones back in the lineup and D’Onta Foreman leading an improving run game, Tennessee has a path to success to scoring on this Pittsburgh defense.
Titans vs. Steelers Predictions
I understood the initial move toward Pittsburgh this weekend. Mike Tomlin as a home underdog has been an extremely profitable wager since he’s been the coach of the Steelers, and the Steelers defense is getting healthier.
With that being said, this has gone too far.
Just a week ago, Pittsburgh closed as a 3.5-point underdog in Minnesota against a 5-7 Vikings team that was better than its record indicated. To close as a small favorite against Tennessee, implying a significant gap between the Vikings and Titans right now, seems off to me.
Tennessee hasn’t been great since Henry and Brown got hurt, but its defense is stout and has a definite advantage over Pittsburgh’s horrible offense. And the Titans offense? It won’t have to do much here to get the job done. If you watched Minnesota gash the Steelers on the ground last Thursday, it’s easy to imagine Tennessee will have some success too.
Trust head coach Mike Vrabel and Tannehill to take care of Tomlin and Roethlisberger on the road.
Pick: Titans ML -105 | Bet to: -120
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