Big Ben Rebounds in Big Way for Steelers Against Texans

David Schwab

Friday, December 22, 2017 8:44 PM UTC

Friday, Dec. 22, 2017 8:44 PM UTC

The 11-3 Pittsburgh Steelers are heavy road favorites against the 4-10 Houston Texans on Monday at 4:30 p.m. ET. Pittsburgh already has won two of three games against the AFC South this season, but does that make them the best pick here?

NFL Week 16: Steelers vs. Texans

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Free NFL Pick: Steelers -9Best Line Offered: BookmakerGame Overview

Pittsburgh has lost only three of its first 14 games this season straight-up, but two of those losses -- to Jacksonville at home in Week 5 as a 7.5-point favorite, and last Sunday to New England as a 2.5-point home underdog -- could prove costly in playoff seeding. The Steelers cannot afford to look past this Christmas Day game in that quest for an opening-round bye. Betting on Pittsburgh this season has been a whole other story; they are 6-8 against the spread, including 5-7 ATS when closing as a favorite.

After putting his team in position to beat New England in the closing seconds, veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sealed his team’s fate with an interception in the Patriots’ end zone. Big Ben will have to get past that loss but he'll be without his No. 1 receiver, as Antonio Brown is sidelined with a bad ankle.

The Texans have been basically riding out the string since rookie sensation Deshaun Watson was lost for the season with a knee injury. Houston has just one SU victory in its last eight games and has failed to cover ATS in five of its last seven. The total went over 39 points in last week’s 45-7 no-show against Jacksonville as a 10.5-point road underdog after staying under or ending as a push in five of the Texans’ previous six games. They are 3-4 ATS in seven home games this year.

The offense has failed to score more than 16 points in each game of Houston’s current four-game SU slide to fall to 14th in the league in average points (22.8) following that promising start with Watson at quarterback. TJ Yates got the start last Sunday against the Jaguars and he ended the game with 128 yards passing as part of the Texans’ 186 yards of total offense. Houston is now dead last in the NFL in points allowed (27.1) as a result of that lopsided loss.

Game Betting Trends

The Steelers have failed to cover in their last four December games, and they are 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games against a team with a SU losing record. The total has stayed under in five of their last six games following a SU loss.

The Texans are 0-5 ATS in their last five December games, and they failed to cover in nine of their last 11 Monday games. The total has stayed under in 13 of their last 18 December games.

The favorite in this AFC tilt has covered ATS in the last four meetings, and the total has stayed under in three of the last five matchups.

The Verdict

The Steelers will have to put last Sunday’s disappointing loss in the rear-view mirror to avoid letting it affect their play on Christmas Day. Pittsburgh not only needs a win, it needs one in a convincing fashion to start rebuilding momentum for the playoffs. I think the Steelers get it done against a Houston team that has already packed its bags for an early trip to the offseason. My top NFL pick in this one is Pittsburgh ATS based on the current betting line at SBR Odds.

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