The Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line has been the strength of the team all season. Cameron Heyward is back from a pectoral injury last season and is playing the best football of his career. He is on pace for career stats across the board and could get All-Pro recognition. Javon Hargrave is in the midst of a breakout sophomore campaign as well. Stephon Tuitt has missed four games due to injury but bounced back in Week 10 with a sack and two tackles for loss to the Indianapolis Colts. They bring in Tyson Alualu and L.T. Walton for strong depth to complete one of the best fronts in the NFL.
However, in their Week 11 matchup with the Tennessee Titans, they face an offensive front equally as talented. This starts with their tackles. Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin both went to the Pro Bowl last season, and Conklin was named to the All-Pro. Conklin is right back where he was, as he has not allowed a single sack this season. Lewan has allowed two and could be held responsible for two more with communication issues.
However, that mainly comes from their guard situation. Over the first six weeks of the season, Marcus Mariota was sacked five times. Over the past two weeks, he was sacked seven. The difference? Quinton Spain, the left guard has missed two games.
The Bengals attacked that side of the ball and threw stunts at backup Ben Schwencke and Lewan to exploit the matchup. Similar came against the Ravens as six of those seven sacks came on the left side.
However, like Tuitt, the Titans are now getting their piece back to complete a puzzle that features one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Even counting that two-game gaffe due to injury, only Ben Roethlisberger, Derek Carr, Drew Brees, and Case Keenum have thrown 150 passes and have been sacked less than Mariota. This offensive line is not here for the pressure, and the Steelers front has been dominant in forcing it. Which side breaks will be the difference in this game.