PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers have a commanding lead in the AFC North and are in a two-way race with New England for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs as Thanksgiving looms, exactly what they expected.

It just doesn’t really feel like it.

While the Steelers (7-2) are hardly apologizing for their best start in Coach Mike Tomlin’s decade-long tenure, they would love a little style to go with all that substance. Narrow escapes such as last week’s 20-17 victory over struggling Indianapolis are starting to get old.

The $92 million offense that includes the highest-paid (and most productive) wide receiver and running back in the NFL is averaging just 20 points a week. The Steelers are one of just five teams that haven’t reached 30 points in a game all season.

“We’re still saying we have to get better but eventually we’ve got to do it,” wideout Antonio Brown said.

Like Pittsburgh, surprising Tennessee (6-3) is looking to send a message that their progress in Coach Mike Mularkey’s second season isn’t a mirage.

The Titans bring a four-game winning streak into Thursday night’s meeting in Pittsburgh, though the four victories are against teams that are a combined 10-27.

“I think it’s going to be a big measuring stick for our team to see where we’re at,” Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker said.

Despite the short week, the sides are hardly strangers. Mularkey and five other members of the Titans’ staff played or coached for Pittsburgh – or in the case of Mularkey, did both.

That includes Hall of Fame defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who served as the architect for a Steelers defense that reached the Super Bowl three times in six seasons between 2005 and 2010.

Though LeBeau was pushed out in favor of protege Keith Butler in January 2015, the lessons LeBeau imparted still resonate on a young but rapidly maturing defense that’s second in the league.

“A lot of our characteristics are (still) Dick LeBeau driven,” Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward said.

“Even our goals and stuff, they’re still Coach LeBeau’s and the way he wanted it because our coaches were under him. I think his imprint, his lasting imprint is a lot of what our defense wants to reach.”

LeBeau is in the process of working his magic again in Tennessee as the Titans pursue their first playoff berth since 2008.