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Reasons for concern in the Steelers' Week 7 game against the Houston Texans

The powerful but largely one-dimensional Texans pose a challenge in the sense they do exactly what the Steelers have failed to stop so far this season.

Scott Halleran

It's fair to say the question of whether Texans defensive end J.J. Watt can lay claim to being one of the best defensive linemen ever is a good place to start discussion of why the Steelers should be concerned heading into Week 7.

I don't think we've ever seen a defensive player dominate the game as much as Watt has so far this year. In an already impressive and still very young career, Watt is playing at a level unrivaled by anyone in recent memory.

Simply put, he's a concern. A large concern who chaperones dances during TV timeouts and probably still gets pressure in doing so.

Along with that, the Texans have a very sound running game. It's well-coached and fluid. Running back Arian Foster is among the best zone-runners of his generation and, as long as he is healthy, Houston is going to get him the ball. That's a concern against a defense that has just taken a savage beating on the ground. Houston's plan is simply going to be to suck the air out of the ball, maintain possession and rely on their defense to handle the rest.

But such simple and obvious game plans have inherent dangers as well as flaws. Becoming so one-dimensional usually isn't the best idea against a Dick LeBeau defense, but the Steelers have given Bill O'Brien and his staff little reason so far this season not to feel confident in the matchups.

Stated another way, can the Steelers limit Houston's running game and force long downs? Can they get them to 3rd-and-8 and force the erratic Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw the ball for distance? It's hard to say considering the Texans are 3-3 largely without the benefit of a decent passing attack. The Steelers are 3-3, at least somewhat attributable to the fact they can't stop the run (losses to Cleveland and Baltimore can be pinned on their inability to hold their own against the run game).

These are big concerns heading into a critical game. It's hard to remain optimistic about this team's future if they can't beat a .500 team at home on Monday Night Football, even if that .500 team has the best defensive player in the game on its roster. While these concerns are valid, we're soon going to see what this coaching staff and players are made of.