by JJ Cooper
This game wasn't supposed to matter.
If Tennessee had beaten the Texans last week, this would be a rehash of the preseason. Tennessee would have the No. 1 seed for the playoffs wrapped up, while the Steelers would have locked up the No. 2 seed.
Instead, we now have a game that means something (although there is some debate as to how much), which means that both teams have reason to try to prove who's the best team in the AFC, while also saving a little something in the back pocket in case they meet again next month.
Tennessee limps into this game without defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, but the Titans also have an outstanding offensive line that has allowed only eight sacks all season--which is 19 less than Steelers outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley have racked up this year. If Tennessee can shut down the Steelers' pass rush, it will give Dick LeBeau plenty to worry about.
This game will mean a lot more if it happens again in January, but as for now, it means more for the Titans. Tennessee needs to prove that they didn't play their best football in September and October, while the Steelers, who just beat the Patriots, Cowboys and Ravens in the last three weeks, could shrug off a close loss as a minor setback.