The Steelers hosted Denver last week, offensive line in flux, and still managed to get the win. The outcome was very close to what we predicted, though the Steelers failed to cover the spread, they opted to kneel it out inside the ten to punch the winning ticket.
The big news may have been Drew Lock’s injury, but it shouldn’t linger as the reason the Steelers won. Drew Lock’s injury actually fooled us into thinking this game was going to snowball into an easy win, but Jeff Driskell came in and actually looked better than Driskell has this season.
As the game went on, it appeared to be more of a curse in disguise than a lucky break. The Steelers defense held up well against the run, limiting Melvin Gordon to 70 yards on 19 carries, but the key was the playmaking ability of the Steelers defense. The late fourth-down sack in the red zone on fourth down, under two minutes, gave the Steelers the ball back to preserve their five-point lead in the waning minutes.
A broken James Conner run was enough to ice out the clock. Before we credit the Steelers offensive line too much, it was good enough to get the win and appeared fine on paper, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Before James Conner’s 59-yard run to essentially put the game away, he had carried the ball 13 times for just 43 yards.
The game was very promising from the Steeler’s current patchwork line, but also reassuring for the line depth going forward. Pro Football Focus has the Steelers line graded slightly below average thus far in the season. It makes sense given what we’ve seen so far, but they deserve credit for only allowing one sack in this one. Either way, the Steelers are going to need the line to get healthy and cleaned up if we expect them to make a deep playoff run this season.
Steelers vs Texans Preview
If you’re a fan of the Texans, I feel sorry for you. You have this team who is hyped every season, who typically wins the division and then goes out in the divisional round every year. In the offseason, GM and head coach, Boll O’Brien traded away superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round pick for a washed David Johnson and a second-rounder. Johnson looked decent in Week 1 but that may have exhausted the remaining juice he had left, as DJ was very subpar in Week Two.
The Texans defense is hard to evaluate because they’ve played two of the best offenses in the league in consecutive weeks, but they were very inconsistent in 2019. I don’t expect a whole lot has changed, but I do expect a heavy pass rush against the Steelers in this one.
For the Steelers, they’re going to need to take the pressure off the Texans pass rush in this game and the best way is by establishing a quick and efficient aerial attack. Screens, sweeps, gadgetry at the line all go a long way in bettering a team’s odds against a good pass rush.
The Texans feature an offense that’s more of a mystery this season than in years past. Without their clear star receiver, the Texans have looked lost on most third downs this season, so far. The Steelers should be able to take advantage of the Texans’ secondary, but the key is going to be containing Deshaun Watson. Watson’s ability to improvise and make plays, in and out of the pocket, make him extremely challenging to quell.
I like the Steelers prospects against this Texans defense, littered with holes. The Steelers are conscious of their offensive line situation, as seen last week with the 41 pass attempts to just 22 rush attempts. Even though the Steelers were ahead, they had such little faith in their ability to run the ball successfully. With a good lead, they kept moving it through the air to keep the clock and the chains moving. I think we shall see much of the same this week against the Texans.
I expect the game to be relatively back and forth throughout, but on the lower scoring end. I like the Steelers in this game, as the more complete team, though it’s going to likely be down to the wire. I think the Steelers will go ahead on a late field goal and rely on their stout defense to hold off the Texans down the stretch.
Final Score: Steelers 23 Texans 20