Steelers Texans Pick Against The Spread – Week 4

This weekend’s matchup at Reliant Stadium should tell us a lot about both of these teams and what we may expect from both the rest of the season. Steeler’s fans can’t be feeling good about the way their team has performed this year, watching them start the year with one of the more suspect 2-1 records in the league. That record could and actually should be 1-2, since Indianapolis outplayed them last week but still managed to lose the game 23-20. Meanwhile, the Texans were looking for their franchise first 3-0 start last week, as they were in the Big Easy to take on the high-scoring Saints. Despite having not one but two fourth quarter leads against New Orleans, the Texans could not put it away and eventually fell 40-33in that game. Based solely on both teams’ performances so far, the Texans should win this game, at least on paper, but then there is that little wrinkle called the point spread.

Pittsburgh @ Houston, Spread, Line and Betting Odds:

Spread:

Pittsburgh Steelers +3
@ Houston Texans -3

Game Total:

Over 45 (-110)
Under 45 (-110)

Betting odds taken from BetOnline.com

Pittsburgh @ Houston Pick:

PICK = HOUSTON TEXANS -3

Coming into this game, the Steelers find themselves in a position they don’t usually find themselves in, that is coming into a game as an underdog. That may be some motivation for Roethlisberger, but will it be enough for the rest of the team to finally play a complete game this year like the Pittsburgh Steelers we have been used to seeing? Even though they have been a little shaky this season, Pittsburgh’s defense is still ranked #2 in the league, allowing an average 263.3 yards per game through the first three games. That average is actually 9.4 yards per game better than what they averaged all of last year, however they are allowing an average of 164 yards per game at home, and 313 YPG on the road. Breaking it down further, they are ranked number 12 in rushing yards allowed per game at 99.3, and are number 1 in the NFL in pass defense, giving up an average 164 yards per game so far this year. Those numbers may look impressive, but keep in mind the Steelers have played both the Seahawks, with Tavares Jackson, at Heinz Field, and Indianapolis, with Kerry Collins, on the road. Pittsburgh will have to earn those impressive rankings this week, as the Texans are ranked 9th in the league in overall yards, averaging 400.7 per game (138 rushing, 262.7 passing). The Texans also have the second most rushing attempts per game in all of football, handing the ball off on average 34 times a game. Given these numbers, Houston will run the ball at least that much in this game, especially with the Steelers’ secondary having another strong season, despite not having recorded an interception so far this year. With Houston establishing the running game, and Pittsburgh being forced to respect it, Matt Schaub may be able to look for some big plays downfield, although Pittsburgh’s Ike Taylor has done an admirable job so far in shadowing team’s best receivers. He may have his hands full with Andre Johnson, one of the league’s best, which also may create some opportunities for TE Owen Daniels, the team’s second leading receiver.

When Pittsburgh has the ball, look for them to also try to establish their ground game, which has been struggling so far this year averaging just 85.7 yards per game. What’s more, that average drops to just 66.5 yards per game on the road, which may present a challenge playing in Houston this week. The Steeler’s passing game has always been set up by its’ running game, and Mike Tomlin will not likely alter that game plan any time soon. Rashard Mendenhall has run for just 148 yards this year, and is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry on average, so Pittsburgh will have to try and find a way to get him more involved.

The Texans will try and apply pressure on Big Ben, especially since the Steelers offensive line has been hit hard by injuries so far this year, especially at the Tackle position. Pittsburgh will have to try and do a better job of protecting Roethlisberger, who has been sacked 9 times, has fumbled 4 times and has been intercepted 4 times this year, mostly as a direct result of their offensive line play. One bright spot in the Steelers passing game is Mike Wallace, who has registered three consecutive 100 yard receiving games and may find some success in this one, if Roethlisberger has the time to allow him to get downfield that is.

Since 2000, the previous year’s Super bowl losing team is 38-70-2 against the spread the following year, and I can see Pittsburgh continuing that trend in this one. Houston has not fared well in “big” games over the past few years, and this is a great opportunity for them to make a statement, and try to learn how to win. Despite being somewhat of a favourite to make the playoffs the past few seasons, the Texans always seem to find a way to lose too many and finish on the outside looking in. If this truly is a different Texans team, this is the type of game they have to capitalize on. Take the Texans and give the 3 points.

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