Pittsburgh Steelers
The "Thursday Night Football" betting odds favor the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Tennessee Titans in Week 11. Pictured: T.J. Watt celebrates with William Gay after a defensive stop in the second half during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Heinz Field on Oct. 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Week 11 of the 2017 NFL season begins with a potential playoff preview. The Tennessee Titans visit the Pittsburgh Steelers on “Thursday Night Football” in a game that could go a long way in determining one of the first two AFC postseason berths.

The Steelers and New England Patriots share the AFC’s best record at 7-2. The Titans, Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars are all in the mix for a first-round bye with six wins and three losses.

It’s hard to imagine New England not finishing the regular season strong and securing home-field advantage through at least the divisional round of the playoffs. Thursday’s winner could land the other top-two seed.

Even though Pittsburgh and Tennessee are separated by just one game in the standings, a win on the road for the Titans would certainly be considered an upset. Pittsburgh and New England are considered to be the class of the AFC, having met in last year’s conference championship game. Tennessee was expected to improve in 2017, but they haven’t won a playoff game in 15 years.

The early betting line favors the Steelers by seven points, per OddsShark. Thursday’s over/under is 44.

Pittsburgh's three-game cushion in the AFC North isn’t much of a surprise. The way they’ve achieved that lead wasn’t exactly expected.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has played in three Super Bowls. Antonio Brown is the NFL’s best wide receiver. Le’Veon Bell might be the league’s top running back. JuJu Smith-Schuster has emerged as one of football’s best young receivers.

But it’s the Steelers’ defense that has them playing like a championship contender.

Following their 20-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh ranks second in both yards and points allowed per game. No offense has scored more than 18 points in regulation against the Steelers—Chicago beat Pittsburgh 23-17 in overtime and Jacksonville returned two interceptions for touchdowns when they beat the Steelers 30-9.

Opposing quarterbacks have a 76.5 passer rating against Pittsburgh. The Steelers are tied for second with 29 sacks.

Marcus Mariota hasn’t exactly looked like a quarterback that’s up to the task of humbling Pittsburgh’s defense. After struggling in Tennessee’s 24-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Mariota ranks 25th with an 83.1 passer rating. He has just seven touchdown passes and six interceptions, and 18 signal callers have completed a higher percentage of their passes.

Perhaps Mariota will impress the national TV audience in Week 11. His best game of the season came against Seattle’s vaunted “Legion of Boom,” and he posted a 100.0 passer rating against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9. Mariota and the Titans rely heavily on their ground game, and the Steelers have been vulnerable against strong rushing attacks, allowing 4.2 yards per attempt.

But all signs are pointing toward a win for the Steelers.

Pittsburgh has won four games in a row, including impressive road victories against the Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions. The Titans haven’t beaten a playoff contender since Week 3.

Prediction: Pittsburgh over Tennessee 27-16