This is your ultimate quick reference guide to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans. This NFL week 16 gameday guide is sponsored by ‘Nail the Number.’
What: Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) at Houston Texans (4-10)
Where: NRG Stadium Houston, Texas
When: 430pm Eastern on Monday, December 25th, 2017
Weather: We are indoors
Line: Steelers -10
Last Week: The Steelers lost 27-24 to New England while the Texans were beaten 45-7 by Jacksonville.
TV: NBC/NFLN/Amazon Streaming Mike Tirico, Kurt Warner and Heather Cox on the sidelines.
TV Coverage in Your Area: National TV Audience
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Head Official: Bill Vinovich
Key Injuries: HOU: OUT:G Jeff Allen (Concussion), T Kendall Lamm (Concussion), OLB LaTroy Lewis (Shoulder) QUEST: None PIT: OUT: Antonio Brown (calf) QUEST: Ramon Foster (concussion), Coty Sensabaugh (shoulder) Game-Time Decisions will be updated when available.
2017 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 4th HOU 16th Passing Offense: PIT 2nd HOU 18th Rushing Offense: PIT 21st HOU 15th
Total Defense: PIT 4th , HOU 25th Passing Defense: PIT 5th HOU 27th Rushing Defense: PIT 8th HOU 10th
AFC North Rankings: Pittsburgh 11-3*, Baltimore 8-6, Cincinnati 5-9, Cleveland 0-14 *=Division Champion
What You Need to Know: The Steelers dropped their first game of the season when scoring 20 points or more. They are now 10-1 when that happens… Vince Williams’ interception last week was the first of his career… Cam Heyward has 10 sacks on the season trailing Keith Willis (for sacks by a DL) who had 14 in 1983… Le’Veon Bell became the first Steelers’ player to record back-to-back to 1,800 total yards seasons… Ben Roethlisberger lost for just the ninth time in 80 games in which he recorded a passer rating of 100 or more.
What’s at Stake: For the Houston Texans, it’s pride. At 4-10, this season has been an utter disappointment and has been ravaged by injuries to J.J. Watt, DeShaun Watson and many others. For Pittsburgh, they need a win to stay ahead of Jacksonville for the second seed and a first round bye. Should they get that and a Jags’ loss to the Niners then they’d clinch no worse than the second seed.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 3-2 and are 1-1 in Houston.
Series Highs: PASSING: Steelers Tommy Maddox 325yards Dec. 8th, 2002, Texans Ryan Fitzpatrick 262yards Oct. 20th, 2014… RUSHING: Steelers Willie Parker 138yards Sep. 7th, 2008, Texans Arian Foster 155yards Oct. 2nd, 2011… RECEIVING: Steelers Antonio Brown 90yards Oct. 20th, 2014, Texans Andre Johnson 112yards Sep. 7th, 2008
Last Meeting: October 20th, 2014 Pittsburgh 30 Houston 23
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Ride the Adversity. As players, all anyone has wanted to talk about was the end of the loss to New England. It has to be in the past now. You’re also playing without Antonio Brown and you’re away from home on Christmas. You can choose to let all of that defeat you or you can rise above it, play your ass off and go home with much-needed win. The Steelers cannot afford to let Houston get off to a good start. T.J. Yates has to be pressured early and forced into mistakes while the Pittsburgh offense needs to get humming right away. There is a huge contingent of Steeler Nation expected at this game so use their enthusiasm and get the job done.
Pass to Set Up the Run. The Houston secondary is not good but the Texans’ run defense is ranking 10th in the league. Todd Haley already knows he has to spread the ball around with Antonio Brown out so let your star QB come out and do just that. There are plenty of good receiving options available and Big Ben should have Vance McDonald back too. Once the Texans start adjusting that’s when you go with Le’Veon Bell in the run game.
Settle the Secondary. With Joe Haden expected to return, the Steelers’ secondary should improve. DeAndre Hopkins is second in receiving yards behind Antonio Brown and he cannot be allowed to beat the Pittsburgh defense. It’s far more than about just Haden though. Artie Burns has played better and he was the victim of some bad calls in recent weeks too. Mike Mitchell and Sean Davis MUST communicate and read plays better than we’ve seen recently. Being late on deep throws is just not acceptable if this team has Super Bowl aspirations.
Predictions: I sense great anger in this team. They know they deserved better last week but have been forced to swallow a bitter pill of reality. With a national TV audience, don’t expect the Texans to just sleepwalk through this one but it won’t be enough. Steelers 33 Texans 13