Home NFL Picks & Betting Articles NFL Odds & Predictions -- Steelers Out to Pressure Watson, Texans

NFL Odds & Predictions — Steelers Out to Pressure Watson, Texans

The Houston Texans are not off to a good start, but in a way you can’t blame them, because they have played perhaps the two most formidable teams in the NFL in the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens. Will they get any kind of relief going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers? That is the opposition waiting for them at Heinz Field, with kickoff scheduled for 1 PM ET.

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To give you some background, Texans coach Bill O’Brien not only did not get fired in the off-season, he actually got more control over personnel. And a couple of the personnel moves were brought into question. One of them involved trading DeAndre Hopkins, one of the NFL’s best wide receivers. Houston also let go of Carlos Hyde, who ran for over a thousand yards last season.

Quarterback DeShaun Watson did have a committee of receivers which represented the opportunity to maybe spread it around a little. But what we’ve seen through the first two games is an offense that is tentative and sometimes confused. Guys like Kenny Stills, Will Fuller and Randall Cobb aren’t bad, but they don;t provide that spectacular outlet that Watson could turn to. If Watson is crossed up, he’s going to hold the ball for too long. And that makes him vulnerable to a pass rush.

In the trade that sent Hopkins to Arizona, they got David Johnson, who was once all the rage among fantasy owners but hasn’t been the same since he was injured early in the 2017 season. So they have a guy who is a shell of his former self, along with Duke Johnson, who is not a “three-down back.” The Texans managed just 304 yards of offense against the Ravens last week – 51 on the ground.

In the NFL odds posted on this game at BetAnySports, the Steelers are laying points at home:

Pittsburgh Steelers -4.5
Houston Texans +4.5

Over 46 points -110
Under 46 points -110

It’s not as if Pittsburgh has come out with a full head of steam. They were somewhat uninspired in the opening win over the Giants, and then they allowed Denver back into the game last week even after the injured Drew Lock had to give way to Jeff Driskel.

If you’re a Steeler backer, you’d have to be encouraged by the fact that they are effectively splitting carries between James Conner and Benny Snell, who are both averaging better than five yards per carry. But they need to create more favorable third-down situations; they were only 2-for-12 converting last week.

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 311 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos, although he hasn’t necessarily made a major connection with Juju Smith-Schuster. But again, the good news for the Steeler faithful is that shutting down Juju does not mean you shut down the air game. Diontae Johnson was the primary outlet last week, with 92 yards. And Big Ben found Chase Claypool for a spectacular 84-yard touchdown.

Claypool is an interesting proposition. A second-round draft pick out of Notre Dame, he is about big enough to be a tight end, at 6-4 and 240 pounds, yet he runs a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. He’s a big target who can create those matchup nightmares a quarterback looks for.

The Steelers have the ability to mitigate what Watson and his receivers can do by putting the pressure on. They led the league in sacks last year and they are second after the first two weeks. Any faith we had in O’Brien has dwindled. Lay the points.

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