Houston (1-2 straight up, 1-2 against the spread) went into Jacksonville and dominated in a 37-17 win last week as a 7.5-point road underdog. Rookie QB CJ Stroud erupted for his best career effort to date, throwing for 280 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.
DeMeco Ryans picked up his first career win as a head coach, and Houston won for the sixth straight time at Jacksonville and the 11th time in their last 13 trips to Duval County. In Week 4, the Texans return home to face Pittsburgh and as of early Wednesday, they were three-point home underdogs at most books.
Pittsburgh (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS) has won back-to-back games vs. Cleveland (26-22) and at Las Vegas (23-18) since a season-opening loss to San Francisco. Star defensive end TJ Watt has led the way with 11 tackles, 12 QB hits, six sacks, five tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two passes broken up, two fumble recoveries and a scoop-and-score TD vs. the Browns that proved to be the game-winning TD.
Mike Tomlin’s squad has been without perennial Pro-Bowl DT Cam Heyward and No. 1 wide receiver Diontae Johnson in both victories. Heyward is out until sometime in November, while Johnson is shooting to return in early-to-mid October. Although the Steelers will be without both key players again Sunday, they got out of the win at Las Vegas without any new injuries of major significance.
On the flip side, Houston is going to be without at least three starters in CB Derek Stingley Jr., OG Kenyon Green and center Juice Scruggs, and it might be without three-time Pro-Bowl OT Laremy Tunsil, who is ‘questionable’ after missing last week’s win over the Jaguars due to a knee injury. Another starting DB, Tavierre Thomas, is also ‘questionable’ with a hand injury.
Dating back to last year, the Steelers are 8-2 both SU and ATS in their last 10 games. Even better, they’ve won five straight road games both SU and ATS.
On the other hand, the Texans have lost eight of their last nine home games with each defeat coming by at least six points.
PREDICTION: I’ll take Pittsburgh -3 at Houston.
*NOTE: My “official” NFL picks that have been tracked at VegasInsider for the last 23 years got off to an atrocious 2-9 ATS start in Week 1 and the Thursday Night Football game in Week 2. Since then, however, I posted a 6-1 ATS record on Sunday in Week 2.
Then in Week 3, I compiled a 9-0 ATS record (!). My winners included San Francisco -7 in the first half vs. New York (on TNF), the 49ers’ Team Total ‘over’ 13.5 in the first half, the 49ers’ Team Total ‘over’ 27.5 (for the game), Miami -6.5 vs. Denver, New England -2.5 at the New York Jets, Detroit -3 vs. Atlanta, Miami’s Team Total ‘over’ 13.5 in the first half, Miami’s Team Total ‘over’ 27.5 (for the game; the Dolphins scored 35 before halftime) and Philadelphia’s Team Total ‘over’ 12.5 in the first half. I’ll certainly concede that I got a generous number early in the week for that Eagles’ 1H TT (and a super-generous result thanks to defensive plays by Jalen Carter late in the second quarter).
You can view all of my pick records on this page (and use the pull-down menu to find specific handicappers toward the bottom of the page under the handicapper money standings).