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NFL Betting: Monday Night Football Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 10/20/2014 11:02:16 AM
p>The Houston Texans and Pittsburgh Steelers both suffered disappointing losses last week, but they were disappointing for very different reasons. How will these teams bounce back?

Houston Texans @ Pittsburgh Steelers – Monday, October 20

These teams are trying to pick up the pieces after falling another notch this past week. The Texans were crushed in the first quarter of their game against the Indianapolis Colts, but they managed to regroup and were within one possession late in the game with a chance to win. However, they couldn’t complete their final drive and suffered a narrow loss to the Colts on their home field. That’s the kind of loss which stings and creates a “fish that got away” feeling throughout a locker room. The Texans played a lot of really good football in the second and third quarters of that game, but they didn’t show up in the first quarter and found that they had dug themselves too deep a hole.

The Steelers fell behind the Cleveland Browns by a big margin as well in their most recent game, but unlike the Texans, they didn’t have any real fight left. They stayed on the mat and absorbed one of their worst losses to the Browns in a rivalry they had normally dominated over the past decade. Pittsburgh looks like a terrible team, to be honest. The Steelers have done nothing to change the perception or the reality of their situation over the past few years. Pittsburgh has turned into an 8-8 or 7-9 kind of team that’s slow at a lot of positions on the field and does not have the power on the offensive line that used to make it one of the best and most feared teams in the National Football League. Ben Roethlisberger is getting old, and he’s not able to create plays out of nothing the way he used to. This team seems to be more and more in need of a total reset, with a new generation of players being required to supplant the long-term veterans presiding over a sinking ship. Pittsburgh’s past teams would have responded to an ugly loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs at home (a Bucs team that got crushed by the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday) by stomping on the Browns and letting them know whose boss. The absence of any strength from the Steelers against Cleveland is worrisome not just because of the loss Pittsburgh endured in the standings. The Steelers have to wonder if they have any toughness and enough skill to supplement it. How does anyone pick the Steelers with any confidence in this game?

The only way the Steelers will win is if Houston plays worse, and while Houston quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is certainly capable of losing this game for the Texans, he actually managed to rally his team last week against Indianapolis, to the point that Houston almost stole that game in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh and Roethlisberger couldn’t do the same thing. This feels like Houston’s – and J.J. Watt’s – game to lose.

Pick: Texans +3

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