Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Who I like, Houston version

The Steelers are an angry team after being beaten, 31-10, last week in Cleveland.

In the aftermath of that loss, they were called out first by they head coach in a team meeting for not being tough, mentally or physically, and soft by former head coach Bill Cowher and teammate Hines Ward on national television.

The moves by all three were meant to prod this team to play even harder, or, as James Harrison said, "If you don't want to be called soft, don't put soft on tape."

The Steelers won't put soft on tape this week against Houston on Monday night.

But this is a tough matchup for them, especially on defense. Houston does well - run the zone stretch - what Pittsburgh doesn't defend well.

A lot of the talk in this game has centered on how the Steelers will block Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Look, Watt's good. He's scored three touchdowns this season, though one came while lining up as a tight end.

He's got 20 QB hits this season, but just four of Houston's 10 sacks.

Watt's presence hasn't helped the Texans be a great defense. He's a great player. The rest of the defense is truly awful, especially the secondary.

Pittsburgh's defense is 12th in the league in total yards against. Houston is 27th.

So the Texans have some issues of their own.

I think the Steelers offense will break out of its two-game slump and actually score some points at home. But after last week's game I just can't pick them to win, though it wouldn't surprise me if they came out and won for the 16th consecutive time at home on Monday night.

Pittsburgh is a 3-point favorite, but I'll take Houston to win, 27-24


Anonymous said...

Balsy pick Dale.

I'm not worried about the Texans running game. Sure Foster is one of the better backs in the league but the difference from the Browns and the Ravens offensive lines to the Texans is going to be a breath of fresh air for our defense. We'll win this game if we can keep the greatest player in the NFL today in J.J. Watt from dominating every single snap like he tends to do. As long as we keep Watt from scoring the Texans probably don't have many more points they can get.

Anonymous said...

Ok, now look at points per game. For both teams. Now look at the average yards per game of the Steelers opponents to date. It is exactly the same as what the Steeler D surrenders weekly. Meaning their high yardage ranking is more a product of crappy opposing offenses and less their own doing. The opposing O's get what they always get. Their D is not as good as that yardage ranking. Reverse may be true regarding the Houston D. 27th in yards per game, while 4th in point per game. Either they've given up a lot of garbage yards, end o half stuff, or they've been very lucky and the dam is bound to break. Inconsistent highs and lows in scoring (2 games surrendering over 30, two games of two scores or less) suggests levy's gonna break. Soon. Hopefully Monday. Unfortunately similar is so for the Steelers offense. Their great yardage output pretty much matches the average yards surrendered by their opponents. Meaning they've been getting fat on turds. And their scoring average has been much worse than the average surrendered by their turdly opponents. Which suggests they're cruddy scoring average is more reflective of their offense to date than their yardage average. Small sample so none of this inks the story. Just outlines it. But a betting man might be inclined to say Houston's luck on D holds together at least one more week.

Anonymous said...

Last week, I thought that the Brown’s game would come down to who wanted it more. This week, it comes down to: Can the Steeler’s damage psyche rebound? Having beaten the Browns 18 out of 19 times or whatever number it was, then to get trashed by them, has to hurt their confidence. The two main intangibles missing from this team are leadership and confidence.

It’s not been said, but the rest of the Steelers season is riding on this game. The schedule doesn’t get any easier and this is the worst team from last year, so lose and you can pack it in, not mathematically just realistically. I know absolutely nothing about the Texans other than they have Foster, Johnson and Watt. A Monday night game in Pittsburgh used to be money, but I don’t see who’s going to lead them out of this mess, so I’ll go Texans 24 Steelers 16.

ibygeorge said...

I don't see the 3 year red zone problem solved over this week. I think they will try to score before entering the red zone and will score if the put the ball in their 2 best players. The defense needs a few breaks for a Steeler win. Maybe these rookies will light things up.

Anonymous said...

Just can't pick a steeler's win after the way they have played recently. Also hard to expect them to score many points against another suspect secondary. Looking forward to seeing how tuitt and Mcullers play.

Anonymous Brian said...

I don't know. 23-20 whoever has the ball last.

Looking forward to watching Watt and was hoping Clowney would play for the novelty. Just shows what an unexcited, "spoiled" bad fan I am.

Any talk about how bad Fitzpatrick is is irrelevant considering who FItzpatrick's going up against.

Also, Fitzpatrick would have won a game that the Steelers completely dominated for 50 minutes - but couldn't score TDs or get out of their own way (sound familiar?) - if not for Stevie Johnson's end zone drop. That Steelers team was better than this one, and that Bills team was worse than this Texans team. And he's veteran enough to move the ball all night if he's not under pressure, they can run a bit, and is allowed 6-yard completions by the defense all night.

Also Johnson & Hopkins are complete mismatches physically.

Never mind, I meant 52-0 Texans.

Just kidding. Still think 23-20. I'll go Steelers in OT.

Dale Lolley said...

Three-year red zone problem? They were 12th in in the league in red zone scoring last season.

Patrick said...

I think the Steelers win this one by a touchdown. Call me crazy, but I don't think this team is as bad as they seem and after last week, they have to be fired up. Great opportunity to get back in the division race.

I'll go Steelers 27-20 in an entertaining one.

Dale Lolley said...

I don't think they're bad, either, Patrick, but this looks like a bad matchup

Anonymous said...

Woodley has 0 sacks this season. Just thought I might mention that. I guess all the dropping into coverage wasn't the problem after all.

Unknown said...

Dale, we have holes in our defense (CB1, ROLB, NT). Aside from their two J.J.s (Watt, Jonathan Joseph), the Texans' defense IS a hole. Okay, Cushing can hold his own. That pretty much sums it up.

Offensively, the only thing that will save us is Haley backing off his strategy and using more play action, pre-snap shifts and Will Johnson. With our running game rolling, the lack of play-action passes is a major head scratcher. Pre-snap shifts create mismatches and defensive confusion. And Johnson is good decent as a lead blocker and with the ball in his hands. Two targets out of the backfield with at least somewhat-vertical routes outside means one of the flats is almost guaranteed to be uncovered. Right now, bubble screens and shotgun handoffs are about 98.9 percent of our offense. Not hard to read after a while.

Anonymous said...

agreed regarding the offense. when the steelers came out with the short passing attack against the browns in week 1 I was very happy. seemed to me they had developed some new wrinkles to incorporate into the overall offensive plan. unfortunately, it seems that IS the offensive plan. as many have pointed out, running the ball so well has setup the play action - where is it?

the steelers have the players to score on offense. they need to tweak their approach to be a bit more diversified and unpredictable. also, as one of my co-workers here in Cleveland put it - #7 needs to stop trying to act like one of the smart QB's (peyton manning) and just do what the coach says - that made me laugh.

if they play with attitude, they should win. if they play like they should win, they will lose.