NFL Picks Against the Spread: Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans

Pittsburgh Steelers at Houston Texans
Sunday, 10/2/11, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  CBS
Opening Point Spread:  Houston -3
Current Betting Line:  Houston -3.5
Opening Total:  45.5
Current Total:  45
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Texans Vs Jaguars Preview
The Houston Texans high-powered offense takes on the always formidable Pittsburgh Steelers defense

Pittsburgh has bounced back after a season-opening loss to the Baltimore Ravens, winning consecutive games, but many are questioning if the team has dropped off a bit since losing to the Green Bay Packers in last year’s Super Bowl.  The Steelers have had success in throwing the football this year, but the rushing attack has been slowed by injuries on the offensive line, ranking 23rd in the NFL in that category.  Pittsburgh is 14-19 ATS and 6-10 ATS at home over the last two-plus seasons.

The Steelers want to get running back Rashard Mendenhall going, as he’s gained only 148 yards on a 3.0 per carry average this year.  He rank for a career high 1,273 yards last year.  “It’s a mindset, it’s a physical part of it,” commented Mendenhall.  “It’s matchups, it’s a lot of things that all together need to be clicking on all cylinders for it to be productive.”  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has done his job in ranking sixth in the league in passing for 314 yards a contest.

Houston dropped a 40-33 contest to the New Orleans Saints last week as 3.5-point road underdogs, as the team will return home after spending two weeks on the road.  The Texans have won the statistical battle in all three games this season, while posting a 2-1 ATS record.  Quarterback Matt Schaub was on the top of his game last week, throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns, but the defense led by new coordinator Wade Phillips, allowed 23 fourth-quarter points.  Houston is 14-19 ATS over the last two-plus seasons, including a 6-10 ATS mark at home.

The Texans bring in the second-best defense in the league despite only forcing a single turnover.  That could certainly change in facing a Pittsburgh team that is last in the league with a minus-nine turnover margin.  Houston has plenty of confidence and wide receiver Andre Johnson thinks the franchise is primed to make a playoff run.  “I think that just the atmosphere, period, around here, I think it’s totally different,” Johnson commented in practice this week.  In his nine seasons with the Texans, the team has garnered just one winning season.  This will be the fourth meeting between these two teams, as the Texans have dropped two straight since winning the first meeting in 2002.

Bettors will likely back the Texans due to their 5-1-1 ATS mark as a favorite of 3.5 to 10 points, while the Steelers are 2-5 ATS in October.

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