Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5)
When we last left these two teams, one was getting pummeled into submission in the first quarter while the other was getting picked apart in the latter three. Both lost. Both are 3-3. Both have a lot of unanswered questions.
Is J.J. Watt the best offensive player on the Texans? Are the Steelers really a last-place team? Can Houston continue to prevent teams from scoring while still giving up a boatload of yards? Will Pittsburgh continue alternating wins and losses forever?
There exists, between these two teams, absolutely no clear trends. The Steelers, as favorites, are 2-1, but only 1-2 against the spread. Houston, as an underdog, is 0-2, but 1-1 against the spread. Conversely, the Texans are 3-1 as favorites, both straight up and against the spread, while the Steelers are 1-2 as underdogs, straight up and against the spread.
There are absolutely no conclusions to be drawn from these numbers. If anything, the only pattern that exists is that both teams play to their expected level, no more and no less. Roughly speaking, as favorites, they win, and as underdogs, they lose.
Combining this derived conclusion with the fact that Houston has trailed by double-digit points in each of their last four games – three times in the fourth quarter – the Texans appear to be the team more likely to fall behind early and not be able to recover. The reality remains, as exciting and game-changing as J.J. Watt is, Houston cannot rely on defensive touchdowns to stay in the game. While the Steelers have proven little, in their own right, the potential for an upside explosion exists more in Pittsburgh than it does in Houston.
The Steelers win by ten on Monday Night Football and cover.
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