Back at it, breaking down what the Pittsburgh Steelers have to do to win (or lose) in Monday’s game against the Houston Texans. My always unreliable prediction at the bottom.
The Steelers Will Win If…
– Edge pressure finally gets home. T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree should be able to get after T.J. Yates. The Texans’ offensive line has struggled, especially on the edge, without Duane Brown and then finally trading him away. He was sacked four times in last week’s lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Watching them on tape, they’ve struggled to defend stunts. Something the Steelers should take advantage of.
– The receivers get hot. Because the Texans like to bring pressure from all over the field. Safeties, nickel corners, interior pressure with DBs, DCs Romeo Crennel and Mike Vrabel are pretty creative. The Steelers got caught with their pants down on the Darrius Heyward-Bey catch at the end of the Patriots game, when they brought six and had a free rusher. If Ben Roethlisberger gets sacked, that’s the play we’re circling. No Antonio Brown so everyone else has to step up.
I think Ben is going to be under a lot of pressure Sunday. And that has me nervous.
– They identify Jadeveon Clowney. Their best pass rusher and arguably defensive player, he’s got nine sacks on the year. And Houston will line him up all over the defensive front. Both OLB spots, hand up, hand down, and inside linebacker, often with Brian Cushing taking the edge spot. Before every snap, find #90.
The Steelers Will Lose If…
– The Texans’ receivers make some splash plays. Like I wrote about yesterday, DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller are really the only two viable threats in the offense. Hopkins more than Fuller, obviously, but Fuller is a deep-ball threat like few in the league. Defensive communication should be improved with Joe Haden’s return but there’s no guarantee.
– Red zone play dooms the Steelers. Here’s a “fun” stat.
Steelers’ red zone offense: 49.1% (25th)
Steelers’ red zone defense: 60% (T-26th)
That’s…not good. The plus side is Houston isn’t strong in these areas either and are tied with the Steelers in red zone defense. But when you’re struggling in critical situational football list this, it’s easy to lose games you’re “supposed” to come out ahead on. Always has the chance to come back to bite you.
– They don’t have a good answer for empty sets. Bill O’Brien is a Belichick disciple. So like New England, you’re going to see a good chunk of five out wide. Never easy to deal with no matter what talent you’re facing. Looking for Keith Butler to have an answer.
Also, the Texans will use seven offensive linemen on certain plays. We’ll get into that in tomorrow’s scouting report.