JOE BIDDLE: Titans in Steel City for Thursday Night Game

(Photo: WKRN)

Thursday night NFL games are about as popular as watching a season’s worth of Young Sheldon in one night.

Fans don’t like them, at least fans that hold a five-day a week job. The NFL just thinks they can stay up until midnight and go to work bright eyed and bouncy the next day.

Young kids have to go to school the next day. If their parents allow them to stay up and see the game to its conclusion, they should be ashamed.

NFL players don’t like playing mid-week games. Oh, most of the players and coaches will not speak out against them. They get paid handsomely to grin and bear them.

The Titans and Steelers play Thursday night in Pittsburgh. They will start the game in the Eastern time zone. Nashville gets a little break because they start an hour earlier in the Central time zone.

Ratings have been going down this season for different reasons. One was the so-called protest of not standing for the national anthem and either staying in the locker room or kneeling on the field.

The Titans roll into Pittsburgh with a rare 4-game win streak. A 6-3 record puts them atop the AFC with a 6-3 record.

Win or lose, the Titans have a team that has settled down, waited for some players to heal and offer help. It is a team that is not all that exciting to watch, but the fans are slowly drifting back in the stadium.

Titans Coach Mike Mularkey knows they must correct some holes if he wants to make the playoffs and perhaps gain a bye.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota has not reached his peak this season. He has thrown more interceptions than he should to be an elite quarterback. The offense is often stagnant. Running back Derrick Henry has up and down games. Veteran running back DeMarco Murray has been battling injuries, but has overcome them and is going to be a factor in how far the Titans can go.

I like the way the Titans put players in different roles against the Bengals. You are liable to see Adoree’ Jackson anywhere on the field. His speed is a big asset to the Titans. Rookie wide receiver Corey Davis is just now seeing playing time due to lingering injuries. In time, Davis can be a star receiver in this league.

The defense is also coming of age. They are making quarterbacks’ lives miserable. Second year safety Kevin Byard is a ball-hawking machine. He is always around the ball. Wesley Woodyard is also coming around from his linebacker position.

Of Byard, Mularkey said after the Bengals game: “(Byard) is in the right zone, right where he’s supposed to drop. He’s making plays all over the place.’’

Steelers veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 35 years old. He has led the 7-2 Steelers to lead the AFC North. Roethlisberger has completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 2,298 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Watch for Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to have Big Ben in his sights. He has been sacked 11 times in 9 games played for a loss of 75 yards.

Granted the Steelers are playing at home, a difficult place to play. They are a team that will give the Titans trouble. They always have.
This will be a game that shows what the Titans have.

Too bad I won’t see it live. I go to work at 6 a.m. Friday. I will have to tape it.

I guess I’ll be stuck with watching Young Sheldon.

Joe Biddle is a sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at