NFL picks and predictions, Titans vs. Steelers: Pittsburgh looking to roll

Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Pittsburgh opens up at home against Jake Locker and the Titans in a contest featuring one established team and another trying to make that leap.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans clash on the NFL's opening Sunday at Heinz Field.

Pittsburgh comes in off a disappointing 8-8 season in which it missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. In fact, the last Steelers playoff victory was in the AFC Championship Game over the New York Jets back in January of 2011.

Ben Roethlisberger will have to shoulder a considerable amount of the load with Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall no longer around. Certainly, this Pittsburgh team seems more vulnerable without Casey Hampton and James Harrison as well.

As for the Titans, Mike Munchak and quarterback Jake Locker each enter their third seasons looking to prove they belong. Locker has some weapons around him in Chris Johnson, Nate Washington and Kenny Britt and, more importantly, Locker has a much improved offensive line with Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack being inserted into the guard spots.

The main issue for Tennessee remains its defense. Other than Bernard Pollard coming over, the team didn't do much to upgrade a unit that finished last in points allowed per game.

Over at CBS Sports, all eight experts picked the Steelers to defeat the Titans. Tennessee fans can at least cling to six of those same experts believing the Titans will cover the spread of 7.5. At ESPN.com, the four analysts who made predictions sided with Pittsburgh.

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