If you came into this week hoping for a high-scoring and fast-paced Thursday Night Football game, then prepare to be disappointed. High-scoring game and Pittsburgh Steelers have not been used in the same sentence a lot this season, and tonight, those Steelers will be hosting rookie Will Levis and the Tennesee Titans.
Starting your NFL career with four touchdown passes in a game is almost unheard of, but for Will Levis, it was just another Sunday. Making his first NFL start, the Kentucky Wildcats product threw for 238 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Levis was supposed to split reps with Malik Willis, but he put that game plan to bed with his play and ended the day by leading his offense to a (4.14) EPA.
Not only did Levis help the Titans snap a two-game losing streak, but he gave fans a glimpse of the Deandre Hopkins they were used to back when he was with the Texans. The veteran had not found the end zone all season until Sunday when he connected with the rookie QB for three touchdowns. Frankly, Tennessee receivers haven’t spent much time in the end zone this season, as the team had just three passing touchdowns before week eight.
It is safe to assume the wide receiver room is buzzing a bit more this week as they head into their matchup with the Steelers. Pittsburgh is not a defense that is easy on opposing quarterbacks, as they enter this matchup ranked 5th in opponent completion percentage and 2nd in takeaways per game.
Pittsburgh has operated on a game plan of forcing turnovers that are either touchdowns or give them a short field so it’s easier on their struggling offense. That game plan has been working until last week, but with their 20-10 loss to the Jaguars, it seems that strategy won’t work all season.
Not only did Jacksonville work into Pittsburgh territory on nine of their ten drives, but the Steelers only managed to score three points off three Jacksonville turnovers, and their quarterback Kenny Pickett went down with a rib injury that has him as a game-time decision tonight.
Will Levis was the big story for the Titans last week, but at the end of the day, Derrick Henry is still the focal point of this offense. It’s hard to imagine Mike Vrabel will make Levis take on the Steelers' defense without establishing the run, so with that said, I’ll be taking Derrick Henry to go over 84.5 rushing + receiving yards at (-115).
Not only has Henry exceeded this total in five of his seven games this season, but he has an ideal matchup tonight with the Pittsburgh defense. After Jacksonville found success on the ground last weekend, the Steelers are now 27th in the league in both rushing yards allowed per game and yards allowed per carry. Not to mention, they have allowed the 5th most yards after contact per attempt, according to FantasyPros.
Henry saw his second-highest workload last weekend with 22 carries, and I expect a similar output tonight from him just to keep the pressure off the rookie. As for the passing aspect, Henry had a season-high four receptions against the Falcons, and he could be in line for close to four targets again tonight as a safety net for Levis. With his usage and ability to break tackles (12th in yards per contact per attempt, per FantasyPros), I expect the workhorse to have another big night.
Derrick Henry Over 84.5 Rushing + Receiving Yards (-115) on BetRivers
*Would play this over to 88.5 yards