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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Houston Texans Point Spread - Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3 SU, 6-8 ATS) vs. Houston Texans (4-10 SU, 7-7 ATS)
Week 16 NFL
Date/Time: Monday, Christmas Day, December 25, 2017 at 4:30PM EST
Where: NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
TV: NBC

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: PIT -10/HOU +10
Over/Under Total: 44

The Pittsburgh Steelers come to NRG Stadium for a week 16 battle with the Houston Texans on Sunday. Neither team had a good week 15. Houston lost their fourth in a row and 7th in 8 games with a massive 45-7 loss to the Jaguars. The two-time defending division champs were dominated for the second time by the Jags this season and are looking pretty bad heading to the finish line of what's been an awful and injury-plagued season. Pittsburgh fell in dramatic fashion to the Patriots in a battle of AFC frontrunners, 27-24, on Sunday. With a chance to tie it, they went for a TD on a tricky fake spike play, with an interception locking up the win for the Pats.

Some restraint should be exercised in calling out Pittsburgh for what happened on Sunday. They had, after all, won 8 straight games heading into that game and were a hair from beating the defending Super Bowl champs. You can get into the play-calling at the end, but it's a bit nit-picky in light of how they turned things around this season after looking very dicey through five weeks of the season. Still, it was a bad glimpse for how they stand against the elite, as their defense has suffered a couple losses that likely contributed to the loss. Still, they have an inside-track for one of the top two playoff seeds in the AFC and should be looking to get back on the winning track this week in what looks like winnable road-spot.

The Steelers' offense played well on Sunday—for three quarters. Their inability to hit the scoreboard in the 4th quarter proved to be critical. Ben Roethlisberger was effective with 281 yards passing and two touchdowns, but that last play was a mistake, even if it was a gutsy move. Better to try that in the regular season than the playoffs. He got a lot of help on Sunday. Le'Veon Bell in peak form is a big weapon and he ran for 117 yards and a TD on the ground, while adding five catches. He leads the NFL in rushing yardage with 1222 yards. One concern is a calf injury to Antonio Brown, the league's leading receiver with over 1500 yards. He will miss this game. Getting JuJu Smith-Schuster was big last week, as he had 114 yards receiving. A TD catch from Eli Rogers offers some promise and after falling out of favor in this offense, we see dangerous Martavis Bryant starting to work himself back into the receiver rotation. He caught a TD on Sunday and added some big catches.

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Earlier in the season, it was the Steelers' defense that was holding things together while the offense found its way. A few losses have perhaps reversed those roles. With Ryan Shazier out and having lost CB Joe Haden (questionable), it was just enough to render their pass-defense a little depreciated, which likely contributed to all the big plays the Patriots had late through the air, namely with Brady connecting with Gronkowski which such impunity. LB Vince Williams continues a big season and he had a pick on Tom Brady on Sunday, Cameron Heyward had a sack, as did Bud Dupree. They're a balanced group, but not one that can afford to lose a small handful of key contributors. We'll keep an eye on their pass-defense moving forward.

Houston appears to be waning. Granted, the Jaguars are simply out of their depth this season, but the lack of resistance and overall effort was enough to take people aback. On offense, they are basically left with a good receiver in DeAndre Hopkins with little else to celebrate. Injuries on the other side of the ball, in addition to simply crummy play, have rendered what was once a team asset into a major liability. It would have been interesting to see how they could have done if all their valuable pieces were in place. But they weren't given the chance to do that. But a lot of teams have been beaten up by injuries and managed to salvage something. The Texans were not one of those teams this season, as every issue they had seemed to snowball out of control.

The Houston offense is down to their third quarterback in TJ Yates. Deshaun Watson offered a ton of promise, before an injury took him out. Previous starter Tom Savage was thrown back in and as he was starting to show some better play, a concussion ended his season. With RB Lamar Miller, Hopkins, and occasional contributors like Will Fuller, V, they just don't have the firepower or wherewithal to make much happen on a consistent basis. The offensive line, a depreciated group from the last few seasons, has not been strong against the opposing pass-rush. In the last 7 games, they have topped 16 points in scoring just once. Ouch.

At one point, this Houston defense was a team-asset for the Texans. In terms of points-allowed, they enter week 16 the last-ranked defense in the league. Injuries are a common lament and in reality, there were a handful of extremely bad setbacks in the personnel department. But they've been without guys like JJ Watt before and didn't slip to these depths. The Houston defensive formula for success just fell flat this season and beyond what the injuries would tend to do. A once-effective secondary has fallen right off the map and unless they come up with something really special, this looks to be an awful matchup for a "D" that might be looking for the finish line at this point.

Coming off a draining run of games, including a tough one to the Patriots last week and now on the road against what appears to be an unthreatening foe, it's understandable if the Steelers don't fly out onto the field on Sunday. Houston could get off to a fast start and put that spread out of reach. I see something different occurring, as it would have been better for Houston if the Steelers just won last week. The Steelers don't want to fall back into the pack and jeopardize that first-round playoff bye. I see a clear win for the Steelers this week.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Pittsburgh Steelers minus 10 points. Bet the Pittsburgh vs. Houston game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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