Houston Texans (3-3 SU, 4-2 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3 SU, 2-4 ATS)
NFL Week 7
Date and Time: Monday, October 20, 2014, 8:30 pm EST
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.
TV: ESPN, DirecTV - 206
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Hous. +3.5/Pitt. -3.5
Over/Under Total: 45
Two teams sitting right at .500 for the season will try and stay in their respective division title races when the Monday Night Football production trucks roll into Heinz Field for an AFC showdown between the Houston Texans and the Pittsburgh Steelers in primetime on ESPN.
Even though both teams current sit at 3-3 for the season, the atmosphere surrounding each teams 3-3 start couldnt be more different .
In Houston, the feeling among most around the Texans is that they are exceeding expectations with their season thus far. The Texans have lost two straight, including a really tough one to the rival Colt lat Sunday, 33-28, but the Texans played well in both losses and appear to have grown into Bill OBriens system every week.
In Pittsburgh, the sky is falling. Well, in some peoples eyes it is, but thats what will happen when you go on the road against a division rival and get embarrassed, 31-10. And the fact that the rival was the Cleveland Browns, and the fact that the Steelers are now at the bottom of the AFC North oh, its burning up the airwaves in Pittsburgh these days.
The good news is that not everyone has jumped off the Steelers bandwagon just yet, although its hard to say that sportsbook managers really have the teams back when they are setting the odds. With that in mind, oddsmakers opened the Monday Night Football game with Pittsburgh as high as 4-point favorites early in the week. The number attracted enough money on the underdog Texans that it has since moved and dropped to minus -3.5 at most sportsbooks and even as low as -3 at a few offshore books.
The over/under total opened at 44 and has steadily risen throughout the week this far, going up to 44.5 at most books and with even a few 45s mixed into here and there.
One thing is for certain, the Steelers once heralded Steel Curtain defense is starting to play more like a lacy curtain. Still a top-15 unit (12th 337 ypg allowed), the Steelers were pounded on the ground by the Browns (38 carries-158 yards, a formula the run-heavy Texans will try and replicate with Arian Foster.
Houstons defense will face an old-school style Steelers offense that focuses on running the ball between the tackles with stud running back LeVeon Bell. The Steelers offense seems t have no problems moving the ball (397 yards per game 6th in NFL), but with just 20.7 points per game (23rd) they just are cashing in on enough of the red zone attempts with touchdowns, a flaw the Texans defense (allowing 23.2 ppg 19th) are in the lower half of the league in preventing from happening.
These teams have split their four meetings in franchise history straight down the middle 2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS, 1-1 SU and ATS in Heinz Field. Houston is however, a bankroll-draining 0-6 ATS on Monday Night Football in their last six tries.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Just like Patriots did a few weeks ago on Monday Night Football, I have a strange feeling the Steelers will get their stuff straighten out in primetime to quiet down all of the neysayers. Ill sit and wait and see if the number drops below the key number of 3 at any point this week, but Im taking Pittsburgh to continue their Monday Night mojo again this time too. Take Pittsburgh minus the points.