Week 16 Tale Of The Tape: Pittsburgh Steelers At Houston Texans
- QuarterbackThe Steelers are not going to be in the best mental state as they prepare for this game. A mind-numbing officials’ decision kept the Steelers from going ahead in the final seconds when tight end Jesse James could not secure the ball as he lunged to the goalline and Ben Roethlisberger followed with a brutal interception against the Patriots.The Texans are finishing a brutal, injury-ravaged year that has seen them go from potential division winners to a team that has struggled nearly every week. T.J. Yates is the Texans’ No. 3 quarterback, and he is coming off a brutal performance against Jacksonville in which he completed 12 of 31 passes for 128 yards. It will not get much better here.
- OffenseThe Steelers are hoping that Antonio Brown’s calf injury will not keep him out of the lineup in the playoffs. He will not play in either of the team’s last two regular-season games, but the Steelers have fine talent at the position with rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant. Running back Le’Veon Bell is the best player at his position in the league.The Texans have not gotten the season they expected from Lamar Miller, and that’s an issue that will have to be studied in the offseason. Miller has rushed for 796 yards and a has an average of 3.6 yards per carry and that’s not good enough. DeAndre Hopkins has 92 receptions for 1,313 yards and is one of the best receivers in the league.
- DefenseThe Steelers got an emotional lift when injured linebacker Ryan Shazier showed up at Heinz Field for the Week 15 game against the Patriots, but it could not lift the play of the defense. The Steelers miss Shazier’s speed and instincts, but they still have a tremendous game-changer in Cameron Heyward who has 10.0 sacks.The Texans came into the season believing they had as much talent as any defense in the league, but they lost J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus early in the year, and that basically ruined the Texans’ season. Jadeveon Clowney is a top defensive player, but he can’t do it without those two running mates. Benardrick McKinney is the team’s leading tackler with 83 tackles.
- Special TeamsThe Steelers have had an excellent year in this area, largely because PK Chris Boswell has been so effective in game-winning situations. Jordan Berry has dropped 23 punts inside the 20 and has done a nice job, while Eli Rogers appears ready to break a long punt return.The Texans are regularly among the two or three worst special teams in the league, and while they are not quite in the middle of the pack, they are much improved this season. Veteran punter Shane Lechler is averaging 48.9 yards per punt and still has a powerful leg.
The Steelers are hurting after the Brown injury and losing to the Patriots, but they will be able to win this game against the battered Texans.