NFL Nation: Kerry Colllins
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) at Tennessee Titans (12-2), 1 p.m. ET
The Titans have drifted away from their run-at-all-cost mindset while losing two of their last four. A game can unfold in a way that forces them out of it, but they are usually pretty stubborn, even if a good share of the carries are for minimal gains.
Much has been made about how the offensive line will handle Pittsburgh's zone blitzing 3-4 front. Tennessee's is a cerebral line keyed by left tackle Michael Roos and center Kevin Mawae, and how they sort through the unexpected to block for Chris Johnson and LenDale White and to buy time for Kerry Collins will be crucial.
Collins has been starting especially slow and while the Titans don't panic, they don't want a bad first quarter to leave them with a hole to climb out of. Tight end Bo Scaife hasn't been as involved in recent weeks as he was earlier in the season. It would seem the Titans could look to find some short Collins-to-Scaife connections early to create rhythm and get the offense started.
Pittsburgh is the league's top scoring defense (13.7 a game) and the Titans are second (14.1). If it's a field-goal-at-the-end kind of game both teams have a clutch guy who's only missed three -- Jeff Reed is 26 of 29, with misses from 40, 45 and 51 yards while Rob Bironas is 28 of 31 having missed from 43, 47 and 49 yards.
I feel like the Titans will need a big play on defense or special teams that flips the field to help the offense get to the end zone.
Houston Texans (7-7) at Oakland Raiders (3-11), 4:05 p.m. ET
Once again the question is whether the Texans can sustain their quality play after an emotional win, and this time with a trip to the West Coast.
If Oakland's stellar cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha shadows Andre Johnson, I suspect the Texans will be willing to look elsewhere and Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels could be in line for big days against the 26th pass defense in the NFL. Johnson, though, has averaged 17.7 yards against the Raiders in two games.
Still, Steve Slaton may be the key -- he has three 100-yard games in a row during which he's averaging almost 5 yards a carry. That could fit nicely against the Raiders run defense, which is used to allowing 4.7.
Houston cannot afford to be undone on special teams, where it has had its share of gaffes this season and has not been a very good kick coverage unit. They will be on high alert with Justin Miller fielding kickoffs, as he has returns for touchdowns in consecutive games.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Let's see what's been written around the division this morning.
It's chat day -- here's where to go at 3 p.m. ET.
- Zac Diles is out for the season with a broken leg, writes John McClain.
- The Texans signed snapper Clark Harris to be ready in case Bryan Pittman's suspended, reports McClain.
- Jerome Solomon says the election was a moving experience for the Texans.
- N.D. Kalu leaves the Texans with a lot of respect, from McClain.
- Diles did a lot to help prevent big plays, blogs Megan Manfull.
- Minnesota's Jared Allen denies he went after Matt Schaub's knees.
- The Colts are on pace for the fourth-lowest per-game rushing average in the league since 1970, writes Mike Chappell.
- Kelvin Hayden is expected to miss the Steelers game, but Freddy Keiaho and Dante Hughes should be back, according to Phil Richards.
- Clifton Dawson went on IR and the Colts signed Titans practice squad defensive tackle Antonio Johnson, says Chappell.
- Tony Dungy's got ties to the Steelers, writes Tom James.
- Jack Del Rio sent a bunch of messages Wednesday, according to Vito Stellino.
- Gene Frenette's take on Del Rio's shakeup.
- Matt Jones still hasn't heard anything about his suspension appeal, writes Michael C. Wright.
- Miami linebacker Joey Porter rips Matt Jones, says Wright.
- Kerry Collins is one of this season's feel-good stories, according to Pete Prisco.
- Middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch is making good progress and models himself after Mike Singletary, says Jim Wyatt.
- The Bears are confident in Rex Grossman, writes Gary Estwick.
- A rib injury has Keith Bulluck uncomfortable, according to Wyatt.
- Bulluck and Kyle Vanden Bosch sit out practice, says Terry McCormick.