The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Houston Texans Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at 1 pm EST. The Steelers are coming off their second-straight win to begin the season as they took out the Denver Broncos at home thanks to a big defensive effort along with a stellar offensive day from Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh rushing attack. On the other hand, the Texans have been slow out of the game as they seek their first win of the season after falling to the Baltimore Ravens at home in week-two.
These teams have not met in the regular season since 2017 when the Steelers picked up a 34-6 road win as eight point favorites. In fact, the Steelers have covered the number in three of their last four matchups versus the Texans. Important to note that Houston stunned Pittsburgh at Heinz Field in 2011 to cover as four point favorites.
The Steelers opened as six points favorites, however, the line has since gone to four in favor of the home team. The total stands at forty-five.
Steelers dominate in first half versus BroncosDespite the defense being shredded a bit in the second half by Jeff Driskel, who threw for 256 yards and two scores, the defense for the Steelers played very aggressive upfront throughout the contest. Linebacker T.J. Watt finished with 2.5 sacks while Bud Dupree along with safety Terrell Edmunds also recorded a sack for a team that ended with a total of seven for the game. Cornerback Joe Haden also picked off Driskel in the contest as the unit was able to get the necessary stops against a Broncos team that scored 18 points in the second half compared to just nine for Pittsburgh.
Important to note that the Steelers are currently ranked one and two, respectively, in yards allowed per game (302 ypg) along with rushing yards allowed (66 rpg). However, the defense without Dupree who is questionable with a shoulder injury while Tyson Alualu (who recorded a sack versus Denver) is also questionable with a knee injury.
Offensively, Roethlisberger shredded Denver's defense with 311 yards with two touchdowns as the Steelers racked up a total of 410 yards, total. Running back James Conner scored his first rushing touchdown of the year while putting up his first 100-yard game in their contest with Denver while atoning for a lackluster effort versus the New York Giants in week-one where he rushed for just nine yards on six carries. Conner is sure to be licking his chops for this matchup as the Texans are currently ranked dead last in the NFL in stopping the run as they have allowed an average of 198 yards per game thus far.
Second-year receiver Diontae Johnson (8 rec, 92 yds, TD) and Chase Claypool (3 rec, 88 yds, TD) were each productive on the outside while JuJu Smith-Schuster continues to rack of catches as he caught another seven last Sunday, bringing his total of 13 on the year (2 scores). Important to note that the Texans are ranked 3rd in the league in defending the pass.
The Steelers have played well upfront despite the loss of Stephen Wisniewski who is out indefinitely with a pectoral injury. Furthermore, David DeCastro has been battling a knee injury, yet is probable for this contest. Unfortunately for the Steelers, receiver Johnson may not suit up due to a toe injury.
Texans' offense dismal versus RavensDeshaun Watson and the offense had tons of trouble moving the ball versus the Ravens, particularly on the ground. The team had just 51 yards rushing on 17 attempts, with Duke Johnson collecting 34 of those. Through two weeks, the Texans are ranked 30th in the league as far a ground game in putting up an average of just 85 yards per game. Furthermore, Johnson is questionable for this contest due to an ankle injury.
His absence will force the passing attack to step up even more with Watson throwing for 25o yards or more in each of their first two games while posting two touchdowns along with two picks. Watson has also gotten beaten up in the pocket thus far in 2020 as he has been sacked eight times already. Also, he may be missing an outside target in Will Fuller V who is currently dealing with a hamstring injury. However, Brandin Cooks will attempt to hold it down on the outside as he is coming off a big night versus Baltimore as he came just shy of a 100-yard receiving day.
Change is necessary and it needs to happen now. pic.twitter.com/dSeiPisL5Z— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) September 3, 2020
In all, the Texans must be able to keep the Steelers' defense off-balance by finding ways to move the ball on the ground while also becoming more efficient in their passing attack versus a secondary that was stung for two scores late in their matchup versus the Broncos.
Defensively, Houston is stacked in their secondary as the team is ranked 3rd in the NFL in allowing just 190 yards per game. The defensive front must now step up if they are to contain a punishing rushing attack for the Steelers. J.J. Watt collected two sacks versus the Ravens while defensive end Charles Omenihu and linebacker Zach Cunningham (10 tackles, 5 ass, sack in week-two) have also been other shining spots. However, the problem has been their inability to consistently stop the run. They were punished in week-one by the Kansas City Chiefs for 166 yards while following up that with allowing another 230 yards to the Ravens in week two.
Stats & Trends
- Texans are 8-1 ATS in their last 9 games following a double-digit loss at home.
- Texans are 5-3-1 ATS in last nine road games
- Steelers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs. AFC.
- Steelers are 1-4 ATS in last 5 games
While the Steelers should be given credit for the way they have performed on both sides of the ball thus far in the season, the fact is that they may be without some key parts in this matchup. And while they may be getting some much-needed help up front with DeCastro possibly returning from injury, the fact is that the Steelers may have problems finding many open spots versus a solid defensive secondary for the Texans. I believe that the Texans will take their lumps as far as defending the Steelers rushing attack; However, they will pin their ears back and get to Roethlisberger in this matchup to cause some turnovers, which can only help their dismal offense.
Look for both the Texans and Steelers to keep this contest a low-scoring and ugly one where Watson will make some plays in the pocket versus a suspect secondary for Pittsburgh while also making plays with his feet to keep his team in the game. In all, take the Texans to give the Steelers a run for their money at Heinz.