Betting the Total for Week 7 Monday Night's Texans/Steelers

Jason Lake

Saturday, October 18, 2014 3:32 PM UTC

Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014 3:32 PM UTC

Into everyone’s life, a little rain must fall. Especially if you’re in Pittsburgh Monday night when the Steelers host the Houston Texans. Maybe this will be enough reason to add the UNDER to your Week 7 NFL picks.

Jason’s Record After Week 6: 21-22 ATS, 5-10-1 Totals

Profit: minus-13.99 units

So if the OVER is the fashionable NFL pick these days, what will it take for us to change our minds with any given matchup? Perhaps one or both of the teams in question has a better defense and/or worse offense than the market believes. Perhaps the stadium where the game is being played has a history of keeping a lid on scores. Or maybe the weather forecast will give us what we need: rain, wind, or extreme cold/snow. And there’s always the chance we’ll get a bargain from one or more of our featured online sportsbooks.

We might have a little bit of everything Monday night when the Pittsburgh Steelers welcome the Houston Texans to the Mustard Bowl. Each team has the over/under at 3-3 against the NFL odds, so there isn’t a lot we can do with that. But the other conditions could be right for us to take the UNDER on the posted total of 44.5 points. To the Pickmobile~!

Minus Men
First off, we have the teams themselves. We’ve looked at Pittsburgh’s offensive woes, which are bad enough that offensive co-ordinator Todd Haley could end up losing his job sooner rather than later. Bad offense obviously leads to lower scores in general, but this is a situation where the market is aware of how the Steelers are struggling. Lowered expectations have already been baked into the total; only three other games on the Week 7 slate have a lower over/under as we go to press.

People might not be as aware of how poorly the Steelers are performing on the other side of the ball. They’re No. 23 overall (No. 22 pass, No. 19 rush) on the defensive DVOA charts at Football Outsiders, and Pro Football Reference has their defense at minus-0.6 SRS, which ranks No. 22 overall. Updating the injury situation, LB Ryan Shazier is expected to miss Monday night’s contest (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), while safety Mike Mitchell says he’s good to go, and DE Brett Keisel is hopeful after putting in a limited practice Friday.

80 Percent Chance of Hope
As for the Texans, we imagine most casual bettors will have little opinion about this regional team. If anything, they’ll expect strong defense (thanks to J.J. Watt) and poor offense (thanks to Ryan Fitzpatrick, unfairly). That’s pretty much what Houston’s delivered, although the defense only ranks No. 15 overall (No. 12 pass, No. 24 rush) in DVOA. However, Pro Football Reference has the Texans tied for No. 8 at plus-4.7 SRS. Maybe it’s those two touchdowns Watt scored on defense. Pittsburgh has a pair of return TDs as well, by the way.

Let’s not forget the blocked punt that the Texans returned against Washington in Week 1. Special teams points count, too, although they’re difficult to replicate on a weekly basis. The Steelers don’t have any return TDs on special teams. Both Pittsburgh and Houston are getting substandard results from their kickers and their returners thus far, which should help the UNDER given that most people pay minimal attention to special teams. Still, the situation on offense and defense doesn’t suggest we should deviate from our default OVER stance.

How about the other criteria? The UNDER is 18-12 during the past 30 games (regular season or playoffs) at The Heinie, which is infamous for its swirling, kicker-befuddling wind patterns. And the weather forecast calls for an 80-percent chance of rain with light winds, with the rain picking up as the evening wears on. Is that enough to do the trick? Well, the OVER is 5-1 in the past six games in Pittsburgh, so maybe not. But we’re picking the UNDER anyway, thanks to the extra half-point that’s available at press time. Let it rain, baby.

Free NFL Pick: Bet one unit on UNDER 45 at William Hill

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