A lousy Sunday afternoon was erased with a convincing cover from the Denver Broncos last night. Pyeton Manning was his usual brilliant self, in the process breaking Brett Favre’s career touchdown marker. Again, Denver looks like the best team in football with their improved offense, and the stinging failure of last year’s Super Bowl remains a huge incentive for redemption this time around. We’ll see if they keep this pace up, but as of this writing, they’re my pick for this year’s Super Bowl.
Onto tonight where we’ll see two competent teams, but ultimately ones nowhere near a Super Bowl. Though it looks like both teams are fringe playoff squads, the Steelers and Texans will need to bring that approach more consistently. With both teams entering Monday night sporting identical 3-3 records, this match-up can definitely serve as a swing game and the difference between making it and not making it.
We enter tonight 2-2 on the week and looking for a final winner to end the week off on a solid note. Continue reading below for further game details between Pittsburgh and Houston and the official prediction for tonight’s match-up.
Texans vs. Steelers Betting Odds:
Houston Texans +3.5 (-125)
@ Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5 (+105)
Over 44.5 (-110)
Under 44.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
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Texans vs. Steelers Pick:
While I firmly believed the Steelers are a solid, well-coached team, their 3-3 record is a bit fraudulent given who they’ve played. They have faced one of the easiest schedules in the entire league, and did in fact lose to the Tampa Bay Bucs on home turf. That is definitely embarrassing and I’m not sure it’s going to get much better for the Steelers given their upcoming schedule. After this, they’ve got the Colts and the Ravens, and the black and yellow better be prepared or that could easily be an 0-3 stretch.
Tonight, what will be on Pittsburgh’s minds will be the glaring issue of pass protection. It’s been poor through their first six games, and one thing the Texans do very well is rush the opposing passer. J.J. Watt is as good a defensive linemen in the league and it’s expected that former first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney will be back in the lineup as well tonight. He’s currently listed as a game-time decision. Roethlisberger has taken 11 sacks in the past three weeks, and given Houston’s personnel, that number could skyrocket tonight. If Roethlisberger isn’t given time or space, expect the Pittsburgh offense to really struggle Monday evening.
With Houston’s offense, again it seems like this is a really good tactical match-up for the Texans. RB Arian Foster has to be amped up for this contest as the Steelers’ run defense is 26th in the league defending the run, conceding 4.57 yards per carry. Foster has hovered around 4.8 yards per carry in 2014, and should be able to really exploit this matchup. At the quarterback position, Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t anything special, but neither was Brian Hoyer last week and he put on a show against this defense. Fitzpatrick is a smart game manager and should be able to not hurt his team in this one. The Steelers’ pass rush has gotten just three sacks in its last three contests, so expect some time for the former Harvard graduate.
Houston enters a hungry team, coming off two straight losses. Both of those were heartbreakers – losing to Indianapolis and Dallas by a combined eight points. Those are great teams that Houston has proven they can hang with, teams far superior to the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t the Steel Curtain, not even close anymore, and with all the injuries they’ve faced recently, the Houston offense should be able to move the ball comfortably. At a nice 3.5-point spread currently, roll with Houston and the points to end your NFL betting week.
PICK = Houston +3.5 (-125)