Opening Odds Report for Monday Night's Texans vs. Steelers

Jason Lake

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 2:53 PM GMT

Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014 2:53 PM GMT

The Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers are both 3-3, and they both failed to beat the NFL odds last week. But one of these teams is on an upward trajectory. The other team is the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jason’s record after Week 6: 21-22 ATS, 5-10-1 Totals

Profit: minus-13.99 units

 

We had a feeling it was going to be a strange week at the ranch when the Houston Texans lost 33-28 to the Indianapolis Colts (–2.5 away) Thursday night. It wasn’t so much that the Colts won – they have a habit of doing that. It was more the way that Indianapolis shredded the Texans defense for 24 points in the first quarter. And it was the way Houston’s offense nearly came back to win, as Ryan Fitzpatrick (109.3) ended the night with a higher passer rating than Andrew Luck (97.7).

Life could be worse. We could be the Pittsburgh Steelers; they had the rare and dubious pleasure of being 2.5-point road dogs versus the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, but 2.5 points didn’t do them much good in a 31-10 loss. Now the Steelers find themselves painted into a corner by the NFL odds, laying 3.5 points at home to the Texans on Monday Night Football. Will Houston take advantage of those extra days of rest? The sharps think so. Houston was getting 71 percent support at the open, and as we go to press, the Texans are still good for two-thirds consensus and two-thirds of the action.

 

Fizzle in the Hizzle
Losing to the Browns might be the last straw for Pittsburgh fans who expect more out of their team. The Steelers haven’t been the same since offensive co-ordinator Bruce Arians didn’t have his contract renewed at the end of the 2011 campaign. Here are the offensive DVOA stats to back that up:

2011: No. 6 overall (No. 7 pass, No. 6 rush)
2012: No. 19 overall (No. 13 pass, No. 31 rush)
2013: No. 12 overall (No. 9 pass, No. 29 rush)
2014: No. 15 overall (No. 20 pass, No. 4 rush)

At least Pittsburgh has seen positive results from running backs Le’Veon Bell (5.2 yards per carry, 28 catches) and LeGarrette Blount (5.8 yards per carry). But now everyone from the local scribes to Snoop Dogg wants the Steelers to fire current offensive co-ordinator Todd Haley. Ironically enough, Haley’s lack of rapport with QB Ben Roethlisberger (93.3 passer rating) could be his undoing; Pittsburgh apparently didn’t want Arians back because he and Big Ben were getting along too well.

 

It’s Curtains
The thing is, Pittsburgh’s problems go far beyond who’s calling the plays on offense. Here are the DVOA stats on defense for each of the past four seasons:

2011: No. 7 overall (No. 3 pass, No. 15 rush)
2012: No. 13 overall (No. 15 pass, No. 9 rush)
2013: No. 19 overall (No. 19 pass, No. 21 rush)
2014: No. 23 overall (No. 22 pass, No. 19 rush)

This is after the Steelers had the best defense in the league in 2010 en route to their third Super Bowl appearance in six seasons. While analysts complain about how Pittsburgh has become a “finesse” team on offense (as if finesse is a bad thing), it’s the decline of former stars like safety Troy Polamalu that Steelers fans and front office personnel have to recognize. When LB James Harrison decides to un-retire just to save his former teammates, you know the jig is up.

If that weren’t bad enough, the Steel Curtain defense will look more like ruffled drapes on Monday night. Nose tackle Steve McLendon has already been ruled out with a sprained shoulder. Promising LB Ryan Shazier (knee) might return after missing the past three games, but he’s still considered questionable to face the Texans, as are safety Mike Mitchell (knee) and DE Brett Keisel (knee). Keep an eye on how these players hold up during practice this week, and stay tuned for our NFL picks on the spread and the total.

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