NFL Christmas Betting Preview: Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans

Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans
Monday, December 25, 2017, 4:30 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
NRG Stadium – Houston, Texans
Opening Line: Pittsburgh -10
Current Line: Pittsburgh -9
Opening Total: 44
Current Total: 45 1/2
Opening Money Line: Steelers -475 / Texans +380
Current Money Line: Steelers -450 / Texans +350

The Steelers travel to the Texans on Christmas Day.

The 11-3 Pittsburgh Steelers have clinched the AFC  North. However, they are coming off a heart-breaking loss to the New England Patriots last week. The Steelers entered that game on an eight game winning streak, and with a game lead over the Patriots for the the best record in the AFC. However, the Patriots would win 27-24 at Pittsburgh. Not only did the Steelers lose that game, but they also lost star receiver Antonio Brown with a partially torn calf muscle. He hopes to return by the playoffs. Pittsburgh is also only a game up on the 10-4 Jacksonville Jaguars who own the tiebreaker over the Steelers. Pittsburgh looks to get back on track as they travel to the 4-10 Houston Texans Christmas afternoon. The Texans are in third place in the AFC South. Houston has lost four straight games.

Pittsburgh leads the series 3-2 against Houston. The Steelers won the last meeting 30-23 in Pittsburgh in 2014.

Pittsburgh is coached by Mike Tomlin. The Steelers have a road loss at the Chicago Bears 23-17 in overtime, and home losses against the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-9 and New England Patriots 27-24 last week. Pittsburgh has road wins over the Cleveland Browns 21-18, Baltimore Ravens 26-9, Kansas City Chiefs 19-13, Detroit Lions 20-15, Indianapolis Colts 20-17 and Cincinnati Bengals 23-20,  plus home wins over the Minnesota Vikings 26-9, Bengals 29-14 Tennessee Titans 40-17, Green Bay Packers 31-28 and Baltimore Ravens 39-38. Pittsburgh was a 2.5 point favorite against New England  and the total was 52.5. The Steelers are 6-8 ATS and the total is 5-9 this season.

Houston is coached by Bill O’Brien. The Texans have home losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars 29-7, Kansas City Chiefs 42-34, Indianapolis Colts 20-14 and San Francisco 49ers 26-16, plus road losses at the New England Patriots 36-33, Seattle Seahawks 41-38, Los Angeles Rams 33-7, Baltimore Ravens 23-16, Tennessee Titans 24-13 and Jaguars 45-7 last week. Houston has a road win over the Cincinnati Bengals 13-9 and at home over the Tennessee Titans 57-14, Cleveland Browns 33-17 and Arizona Cardinals 31-21. The Texans were 10.5 point underdogs against the Jaguars and the total was 39. Houston is 7-7 ATS and the total is 7-7 this season.

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Pittsburgh is outscoring teams 25-20 this season. Pittsburgh is #7 in points allowed and #8 in scoring. The Steelers average 384 yards per game on offense including 281 passing and 103 rushing yards. The Steelers are #4 in total and #2 in passing offense. Pittsburgh allows 308 total yards per game including 207 passing yards and 101 rushing yards. The Steelers are #8 or better in all three categories. Pittsburgh is 85/193 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 68/187. The Steelers have forced 43 sacks and allowed 21 this season. Pittsburgh is even in turnovers. The Steelers have a defensive touchdown and have allowed two this season.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has completed 63.9% of his passes for 4,025 yards with 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He has been sacked 21 times and has 48 rushing yards.

Running back Le’Veon Bell has 307 carries for 1,222 yards with 8 touchdowns, along with 80 catches for 627 yards and 2 touchdowns. James Conner has 32 carries for 144 yards. He is out for the season with a knee injury.

Receiver Antonio Brown has 101 catches for 1,533 yards and 9 touchdowns. He is out indefinitely with a calf injury. JuJu Smith-Schuster has 43 catches for 699 yards and 5 touchdowns. Martavis Bryant has 41 catches for 478 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 5 carries for 14 rushing yards.  Tight end Jesse James has 41 catches for 363 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Vance McDonald is questionable with a shoulder injury.  Five defensive players  are listed on the injury report. Linebacker Ryan Shazier is out for the season after undergoing spinal surgery.

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Houston is being outscored  27-23 this season. Houston is  #32 in points allowed. The Texans average 335 yards per game on offense including 222 passing and 113 rushing. Houston allows 355 yards per game on defense including 248 passing and 107 rushing yards. The Texans are  are #26 in total defense and #27 in pass defense. Houston is 73/195 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 63/184. The Texans have forced 31 sacks and allowed 45 this season. Houston is -9 in turnovers and has scored 4 defensive touchdowns. They have also given up four special teams/defensive touchdowns.

Rookie Quarterback Deshaun Watson completed 61.8% of his passes for 1,699 yards with 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, along with 36 carries for 269 yards and two touchdowns. He has been sacked 19 times. Watson took over for Tom Savage who was benched after a half in the season opener and was rookie of the year contender. However, he suffered a torn ACL in practice  and is gone for the season. Savage started a few more games, but he too is out for the season with a concussion. Savage has thrown for 1,412 yards with 5 touchdowns and 6 interceptions and has been sacked 21 times. T.J. Yates will be the starter. He has thrown for 303 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception. He also has 31 rushing yards on 3 carries. He has been sacked five times.

Running back Lamar Miller has 220 carries for 796 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 35 catches for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns.  D’Onta Foreman has 78 carries for 327 yards and two touchdowns, plus 6 catches for 83 yards. He is out for the season with an Achilles’ injury. Andre Ellington is questionable with a knee injury. Alfred Blue will likely get the back-up carries.

Receiver DeAndre Hopkins has 92 catches for 1,313 yards and 12 touchdowns. Will Fuller V has 25 catches for 396 yards and 7 touchdowns.  Stephen Anderson has 24 catches for 338 yards and a touchdown. Bruce Ellington has 29 catches for 330 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is out with a hamstring injury. Tight end Ryan Griffin has 13 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown. He is out for the season with a concussion Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz is out for the season with a concussion. Thirteen defensive players and six offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.

The favorite has covered the last four games in this series.

Pittsburgh is one of the best teams in the league, but they need to avoid a letdown after such an emotional loss last week. Houston is down to their third string quarterback and has so many injuries. I don’t think this will be close. Pittsburgh wins easily.

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