Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3 SU, 6-8 ATS) vs. Houston Texans (4-10 SU, 7-7 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: Sunday December 25th, 2017. 8:30PM (EST)
Where: NRG Stadium Houston, T.X.
by Jay, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: PIT +9/HOU -9
Over/Under Total: 44
The Pittsburgh Steelers 8 game winning streak came to a halt last week with a heartbreaking 27-24 loss at New England. The game that many considered a potential preview of the AFC Championship did not disappoint but also did not end without controversy. With 28 seconds to go, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger connected with Jesse James for an apparent 10 yard game winning touchdown pass. Only the call was overturned because when James stretched out for the goal line, the ball moved when it hit the ground mirroring the controversy of Dez Bryants infamous incomplete call against Green Bay a few years ago. Instead of a heroic win on enemy turf, Roethlisberger was then intercepted two plays later in the end zone to give the Patriots the victory.
The loss also put the Patriots in control of home field advantage over the Steelers going into the final two weeks of the season. However, the Steelers remained tied with New England at 11-3 SU for 1st place in the AFC meaning they could potentially regain home field advantage with a victory over the Texans this week and a Patriots loss. While that may seem insignificant, home field advantage could be a monumental swing in the playoffs. This week the Steelers look to rebound against a reeling Houston team that has lost 4 straight games including a 45-7 blowout against Jacksonville last week.
The Texans have not been the same football team since quarterback Deshaun Watson went down with a season ending ACL injury. They have lost 6 of the last 7 games since that injury and the offense has been held to 16 points or less in each of those losses. The lone bright spot on offense continues to be WR DeAndre Hopkins who is having a big season with 1,313 yards and 12 touchdowns. Hopkins 12 touchdowns lead the NFL and his 1,313 receiving yards are 2nd to Steelers star wideout Antonio Brown. Unfortunately the rest of the offense has been awful. QB Tom Savage has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, running back Lamar Miller has not touched 70 yards in 9 straight games, and no other receiver outside of Hopkins has even reached 400 receiving yards.
Therefore, it is hard to expect the Texans to stay competitive this week and keep pace against one of the best offenses in the NFL by way of Pittsburgh. Perhaps we can speculate if the loss of Antonio Brown will have any significant impacts. Brown was lost last week with a calf injury in the loss to New England but should be back in time for the playoffs. However, I am not convinced that the loss of Brown will show any immediate impacts. Obviously Brown is arguably the best receiving in football but the Steelers have so many weapons that the impact may not be felt immediately against an inferior opponent like Houston.
The Texans defense ranks dead last in scoring giving up 27.1 points per game. They have been awful in pass defense and mediocre in their run stop efforts. Therefore, I expect Ben Roethlisberger to continue to poke holes in this defense with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Martavis Bryant, and running back LeVeon Bell. Despite each player missing time this season, those 3 targets have combined for nearly 2,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. When Brown went down last week, each player stepped up and the Steelers were able to move the football down the field. Therefore, I am not expecting any significant drops in terms of production against a bad Houston defense this week. In fact, I expect both Smith-Schuster and Bryant to have big games.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: It is pretty simple, Houston cannot move the football and their defense is horrendous. The matchup favors the Steelers tremendously. Take Pittsburgh -9. - If you went to the store and two of the same exact product were sitting side by side; One for $105.00 and one for $110.00, which would you buy? THE CHEAPER ONE OF COURSE! So why are you still betting at -110 odds when you could be betting at -105? Dump your overpriced bookie TODAY and start enjoying the benefits of discounted odds at the web’s BEST sportsbook: 5Dimes!