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5 reasons the Steelers will defeat the Houston Texans in Week 7

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The Steelers are 3.5-point favorites heading into this game and we think the final score will be slanted Pittsburgh's way by more than that.

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Too much at stake

Teams in the NFL often respond rather well after getting whipped. When talk of job loss and other such demotions become commonplace, the focus tends to get sharper. Just as iron sharpens iron, benching begets better performances. Don't think the entire Steelers roster won't notice recently signed Cortez Allen will be riding the pine except for sub-packages in this game. It's not just the players, either. Sure, the Steelers coaches don't listen to anyone from the outside but, inside, they've noticed the team's poor focus and inconsistency across the board. The coaches will make sure every last detail is discussed and accounted for in their game plan.

Steelers offensive

Much like the strategy of performing well on offense in order to keep the opposing quarterback off of the field, the Steelers must do all they can to keep Texans defensive end J.J. Watt neutralized. Is that even possible? Probably not. So the next best thing is to challenge the Texans straight up the middle. Incidentally, that's the Steelers' biggest strength. Backside screen passes away from Watt will be a part of the Steelers' offense, but so will their inside zone-running game which has profited the team quite well so far this year.

Let Fitzpatrick be Fitzpatrick

There's a reason Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has played for several teams and isn't exactly synonymous with passing success. He's the exact kind of quarterback an opposing defense wants to see; inconsistent enough where the team can be seen as largely one-dimensional. The Steelers must focus on maintaining gap discipline and doing what they can to slow down Houston's powerful running game. Forcing Fitzpatrick to go to the air too often will eventually stall this offense.

The time has come

The Steelers' 2014 NFL Draft class is loaded with unique skills. The strength of DE Stephon Tuitt, the speed of running back Dri Archer, the height and athleticism of WR Martavis Bryant. These are not yet all-game players but their specific characteristics, when used as part of a wider-reaching game plan, can have a significant impact. Houston will dare to run outside Tuitt, doubting his first step and his power. They'll ignore Bryant because the Steelers love to throw to Antonio Brown in the red zone. They'll disregard Archer because Le'Veon Bell splits out in the other direction. These guys are mismatch creators and can be used in certain situations for positive effects.

History

The Steelers don't lose often on Monday Night Football - period. There's not much more to explain. Winning at Heinz Field in the latest game of the week isn't a sure thing, but it's as close to a sure thing as the past has seen. Throwing it all together, Houston's running game and the presence of Watt are enough to make the Texans a tough team to beat. Outside of that, they still have remnants of their previous season's 2-14 mark. The Steelers will give up a run or two here and there. Watt will make plays. But over 60 minutes, the Steelers are the better team overall and can control this game with a few big plays sprinkled in as part of a controlled and consistent effort.