Texans or Steelers? NFL bloggers debate who will cover Monday night

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The Houston Texans invade Heinz Field for a primetime
showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 7 Monday Night
Football action.

After starting the season 2-0, the Texans have come back down
to earth, dropping three out of their last four games. The
Steelers are sitting at 3-3 in a crowded AFC North that could
belong to anyone come the end of the year.

Oddsmakers opened Ben Roethlisberger’s crew as 4-point home
faves, but an influx of money on Houston has brought that line
down to -3.

In order to get a grasp on the matchup, we’ve enlisted the help
of those who know these teams the best. Expert NFL bloggers
Stephanie Stradley of the Ultimate Texans
blog and Neal Coolong of Behind the Steel
Curtain strap on the pads to debate not just who wins, but
which team will cover the spread in the contest.

WHY HOUSTON WILL COVER

Stephanie Stradley writes for the Ultimate Texans
blog at the Houston Chronicle online. You can follow her on
Twitter @StephStradley
and read her personal blog at StephStradley.com.

Texans’ D is keeping them in games

The Texans defense, led by defensive phenom J.J. Watt, is a
playmaking unit that tends to keep games competitive, even
against better opponents. The Texans are 4-2 ATS overall, and
2-1 ATS on the road. The Steelers are 2-4 ATS overall, and 0-2
ATS at home.

Houston can expose holes in Steelers’ defense

The Pittsburgh defense doesn’t have the players to run their
scheme properly, particularly in the secondary, and have
struggled against the run. Running back Arian Foster, even
after missing one game and being limited in another, is third
in the league in rushing yards. In addition, the Steelers
sometimes struggle to cover RBs as receivers, and Foster can
get yards this way as well.

Red zone mismatch favors Texans

Pittsburgh has been terrible with their red zone scoring
numbers. Their offense has trouble scoring and their defense
gives up red zone scores at an alarming percentage. Houston is
one of the best teams in the league stopping teams from scoring
in the red zone.

WHY PITTSBURGH WILL COVER

Neal Coolong writes for Behind the Steel
Curtain. You can follow them on Facebook
and Twitter @BTSteelCurtain.

Steelers love the spotlight

You can’t touch the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night
Football. Even the guy who wrote the famous MNF song (used
before they deposed him) is a big Steelers fan. More
importantly, the team is 24-5 all time on the game’s biggest
regular season stage. History may not mean much by way of
determining successful play on the field in Pittsburgh lately,
but it’s not too late to denounce all of history.

Bounce back games have been the norm

One thing about inconsistent teams is they always bounce back.
Sure, 31-10 to Cleveland looked pretty bad, but so did 26-6 to
the Ravens. How did they respond? By beating the tar out of
Carolina on the road the following week. The extra day of game
prep will do the Steelers well in this game. They will be
without two defensive starters, including the benching of
cornerback Cortez Allen, so perhaps the change of personnel
will shake up a defense that hasn’t played its best game yet in
2014 (hopefully).

Texans look lackluster under center

Issues on the defense aside, Houston’s offense is simply
one-dimensional. Ryan Fitzpatrick and his
Civil-War-Era-Meets-Obi-Wan beard aren’t exactly making the
Steelers shake in their Nikes. He doesn’t consistently complete
passes down the field, and with a team running the ball as well
as it is in Houston, it’s intimidating to think of what they
could do if Fitzpatrick was a better passer. The Steelers are
going to get hit on the run a bit – they have allowed a bit too
much on the ground recently. But Fitzpatrick isn’t good enough
of a passer to get the Steelers out of an alignment aimed to
force Arian Foster to earn every yard he’s going to get. They
won’t be able to generate enough to stop a soon-to-awaken
Steelers offense that can get the ball all over the field in
any place away from DE J.J. Watt.

Join the debate: Which team covers on Monday Night Football –
Houston or Pittsburgh?

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