AFC South: Chris Kemoeatu
It's an Insider piece , but I negotiated permission to share AFC South details. Hindsight is crystal clear, but boy did the division get some upgrades.
No. 6 -- Tennessee Titans
Took: Pacman Jones, corner and returner from West Virginia -- Despite flashes, an absolute disaster as he emerged as the poster boy for Roger Goodell’s personal conduct policy.
Redraft: Vincent Jackson, receiver, Northern Colorado -- The sort of big productive target the Titans may have finally found in Kenny Britt, five drafts later.
No. 16 -- Houston Texans
Took: Travis Johnson, defensive tackle, Florida State -- Never panned out into the stalwart the team expected from such an investment. Traded after four middling years.
Redraft: Michael Roos, left tackle, Eastern Washington -- Get to see technically sound tackle twice a year as Mario Williams tries to get through him to get to Titans’ quarterbacks.
No. 21 -- Jacksonville Jaguars
Took: Matt Jones, wide receiver, Arkansas -- Never turned into half the player they thought he would be as they passed on Roddy White and Jackson.
Redraft: Chris Kemoeatu, guard, Utah -- A strong guard who’s done solid work for the Steelers and could have really been a presence inside for the Jaguars.
No. 29 -- Indianapolis Colts
Took: Marlin Jackson, defensive back, Michigan -- A starter on a Super Bowl team, who faded pretty quickly because of serious injuries.
Redraft: Mike Williams, receiver, USC -- Has taken him a long time to become a factor, but as Kiper says, imagine if he was working with Peyton Manning from Day One.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky and James Walker
The Steelers' visit to Nashville Sunday for a game against the Titans is just the kind of late-season game the league, and the networks, love. On the line, the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
Our AFC South blogger, Paul Kuharsky and AFC North blogger, James Walker, will both be at the game. As part of the build-up, they went back and forth on a variety of game-related topics for a joint venture shared by their two pages.
Paul Kuharsky: Sunday's giant AFC showdown features two starting quarterbacks I'd call tough, but Ben Roethlisberger and Kerry Collins are different kinds of tough. Every time I've seen pieces of Steelers games this year, I've seen Big Ben throwing passes with defenders hanging off his limbs or dusting himself off as he gathered himself after a hit. Kerry Collins isn't so sturdy tough; he's more life-experience and game-smart tough. Where Roethlisberger will stand in as long as it takes, sometimes too long, Collins' internal clock tells him to get rid of the ball or give up on a play and live for the next. Watching them and how they react to what two very good defenses throw at them will be one of the best story lines of this game.
James Walker: The physical ailments that Roethlisberger (shoulder, thumb) has dealt with this season are well-documented. But his mental toughness should be noted as well. Roethlisberger never gets down. I've seen several games this year where he cannot make a significant play for three-and-a-half quarters but keeps his head in the game for the key moments in the fourth quarter. That was the case in the two wins against the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens. Roethlisberger has a certain mental toughness and clutch factor that permeates Pittsburgh's entire team. The Steelers play very well from behind and they never feel they are out of it.
PK: I've been thinking in the weeks leading up to this matchup that while the Titans would have problems moving the ball against the Steelers, Tennessee's biggest strength -- its ability to rush the passer with only its front four -- would line up well with the one thing Pittsburgh isn't very good at -- protecting Roethlisberger. I really expected Albert Haynesworth, while he'd also see one of the guards -- Chris Kemoeatu or Darnell Stapleton -- to make life extremely difficult on center Justin Hartwig. At a much different stage of his career when the two were both Titans, Haynesworth kicked Hartwig in a training-camp fight. Alas, we don't get to see the matchup as Haynesworth is out for the remainder of the regular season. And with end Kyle Vanden Bosch also out, the Titans' pass rush can't be as good as it would have been at full strength. It's a big break for the Steelers.
JW: I agree, Paul. A week ago this would have been a much tougher matchup, but this is no longer a big mismatch. As you mentioned, Tennessee's defense hinges on getting pressure with its front four, and without Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch, it could force the Titans to alter their scheme and compensate by bringing extra defenders more often than they would like. That could compromise the back end and leave more room for Roethlisberger to make plays in the passing game against man-to-man coverage. The absence of Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch also helps Pittsburgh's running game, which hasn't been consistent all season.