It's 2-0 vs. 0-2 here as the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Houston Texans. The Steelers have looked good with Ben Roethlisberger returning from his year away, while Deshaun Watson and the Texans are desperate for a win after dropping their first two games. Oddsmakers have the Steelers as favorites of just over a field goal here for this one.
The line has come down a bit for this contest since the lines opened. What was once showing Pittsburgh as a six-point favorite has dropped to the Steelers -4 as of Saturday afternoon. 59 percent of the bets against the spread are still backing the Steelers.
The over/under for this game, on the other hand, has increased slightly as the week has gone on. Originally opening at 45 points, the total is now going at 45.5 or 46 points, depending on the sportsbook. 79 percent of the bets on the total are backing the over.
Game-time Weather: Temperature at kickoff is expected to be in the high-70s with the real-feel temperature slated for the low-80s. The skies are expected to be sunny early on with intermittent clouds coming in later on as the game continues. Winds are expected to come from the south-southwest at around eight miles an hour with gusts that could hit double-digits.
Texans Fall To 0-2The Houston Texans have started 0-2 and while that's a disaster for any team, there have been mitigating circumstances. They've had to face one of the toughest opening schedules I can recall seeing in quite some time, opening up with the Chiefs and Ravens back to back. Now headed to Pittsburgh for Week 3, whoever made the schedules in the NFL league office clearly had a score to settle with Bill O'Brien.
The losses were disappointing, but the Chiefs and Ravens might be the two best teams in the league, so I'm not holding it too much against them. The Texans were ridiculed for the David Johnson trade this offseason but he's looked good and like his old self so far, averaging five yards per carry through two games. They're not likely to get much of a ground game going against this tough Steelers defensive front though, so it'll all fall on Deshaun Watson's shoulders. Even after shipping out Deandre Hopkins, he still has plenty of weapons at his disposal with Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, and Randall Cobb.
Cooks barely played in the opener due to a quad injury but he looked great against Baltimore, racking up 95 yards. Watson has actually played well, averaging 7.8 yards per attempt. The Steelers have a tough pass-rush, but a mobile quarterback like Watson should have an easier time evading it. Pittsburgh has shown that their secondary is exploitable when quarterbacks have time, so someone who can extend plays with his legs like Watson might be able to do some damage on the backend.
OUT: CB Gareon Conley, WR Isaiah Coulter, LB Duke Ejiofor, NT Eddie Vanderdoes, TE Kahale Warring
Questionable: DE Jonathan Greenard, RB Duke Johnson, LB Peter Kalambayi, WR Kenny Stills
Steelers CruisingThe Pittsburgh Steelers nearly made the playoffs last year, and that was with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges at quarterback. That's how good the defense was, so expectations were understandably quite high for Ben Roethlisberger's return from elbow surgery. Nobody in Pittsburgh can complain so far, as they've picked up two wins in two weeks. That being said those wins came against the Giants and Broncos, two teams in varying degrees of disarray. This will be a step up for the Steelers, and I haven't actually been too impressed by what I've seen.
They looked bad against the Giants early on before Daniel Jones melted down, and they very nearly lost to the Broncos after allowing backup quarterback Jeff Driskel to lead a comeback. Pittsburgh relies on their defensive line to dominate, but their job will be a lot tougher here against a mobile passer like Watson. Quietly I don't think Big Ben has looked like his old self, and he doesn't have nearly the same velocity on his throws. There have also been some injuries along his defensive line. Right guard David DeCastro appears set to return here, but it'll be his first game of the season and he could be rusty. Right tackle Zach Banner is now out for the season with a knee injury, so Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has to be licking his chops.
OUT: T Zach Banner, OL Stefen Wisniewski
- 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs. AFC
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a favorite
- 8-1 ATS in their last 9 games following a double-digit loss at home
- 10-3-1 ATS in their last 14 games following a ATS loss
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I think the Texans are going to cover this spread, and I also think they're going to win this game outright. The Steelers have beaten the Giants and Broncos, two teams that are messes at the moment, while the Texans have lost to arguably the two best teams in the league. It's a good matchup for Houston, as Pittsburgh's defensive front will be neutralized by Watson's ability to keep plays alive. Roethlisberger doesn't have much zip on his throws, and with his offensive line banged up I think Watt will be in his face frequently. The Texans are the desperate team here, so expect them to come out with their best effort.
Prediction: Texans outright
Full-Game Total Pick
The over also makes some sense in this spot. As I mentioned above I think Watson is going to have some success, and this Houston offense is set up perfectly to exploit Pittsburgh's secondary. The Texans won't be able to run the ball, so they'll abandon the ground game early, which will help turn this into a shootout. The Steelers have plenty of weapons on offense as well, and I expect them to be aggressive against a Houston defense that has given up at least 33 points in each of their first two games.