Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Night Pick: Steelers -3

Tonight’s Monday Night Football matchup, according to Vegas, is a coin-flip. The line has settled in at -3 with the Steelers as the favorite, which really only means the sports books are adjusting for Pittsburgh playing at home. With the game featuring a pair of 3-3 teams that have been inconsistent so far in 2014, we can’t disagree. So, which way are we leaning tonight? Well, that’s loaded question, as the up-and-down nature of these teams leaves us without a true favorite. So, let’s sift through some of the factors in this Texans-Steelers matchup.

Starting with the home club, the Steelers, this really isn’t your father’s, or even older brother’s, Pittsburgh team. Long characterized by a nasty, physical defense, the Steelers no longer stop the run with great efficiency. Allowing 111 yards on the ground isn’t awful by any means, but Arian Foster and a healthy Houston offensive line are rolling into town. Foster has battled chronic hamstring problems for what seems like years. However, when he’s healthy and dominating touches for the Texans, he’s truly a wonder to watch. In full stride, he looks as if he’s gliding down the field instead of running. If the Houston run game gets going, the Texans could steal a win, no pun intended.

Additionally, Pittsburgh hasn’t had a reliable pass rush in since Obama took office four generations ago. Assuming Foster gets it going on the ground, Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins will be presented with one-on-one matchups in the passing game. Ryan Fitzpatrick won’t beat you with his arm very often, but if he’s allowed to sit back and survey the field, his receivers should make some plays.

And yet, how can we doubt Ben Roethlisberger at home on Monday night? During Roethlisberger’s tenure in Pittsburgh, the Steelers are 7-0 on MNF. While Houston’s defense has looked better than the unmitigated disaster it was last season, the Steelers shouldn’t have any trouble moving the ball. J.J. Watt is playing at another level right now for the Texans, and is clearly the best defensive player in the league. But, the Texans will still be without the #1 overall pick from 2014, Jadeveon Clowney, and have declining talent elsewhere on the defensive side of the ball. Armed with two elite play-makers in Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, we like Roethlisberger’s chances of making enough plays to pullout a win and a cover.

As we’ve already seen too many times this season, there are no locks in the NFL, but you can feel a little confident in the Steelers -3 tonight.

MNF kicks off promptly at 8:30pm tonight, so download SnapCall and call the plays with the rest of the audience!