Evaluating Houston Texans' best opportunitiesĀ in daunting Jags matchup

The Houston Texans head into Week 3 of the season looking for their first win on the road against a familiar foe, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Jags are 1-1 coming off a home loss to the Chiefs, so they'll be looking to get back in the win column against Houston this weekend.

Currently, the Texans are a 9.5 point underdog heading into the game, so coming out on top presents quite the challenge. The Texans injuries have certainly played a factor so far this season, so we'll see if Laremy Tunsil, Jalen Pitre, and Jimmy Ward are able to return to action this week.

A new twist we didn't see coming: The Texans might have an explosive passing game

On the bright side, the Texans managed to beat the Jaguars last season, so coming away with a win isn't out of the question. CJ Stroud is showing all the signs of a future franchise QB, and the receiving corps looks promising, with 3 pass catchers recording over 70 yards against the Colts last week.

The defense is where Houston really needs to step things up. They had zero sacks and zero interceptions against both Colts quarterbacks last week. If Trevor Lawrence has all day to throw, and the Texans once again can't keep the running game in check, it could be another long day for DeMeco's defense.

While starting off the season 0-3 would be disappointing, it's hard to know what this Texans team would look like with their regular starters on the offensive line, and both their starting safeties on the field. Houston will have another big injury to deal with this week, as slot corner Tavierre Thomas will be out with a broken bone in his hand.

That could pave the way for slot receiver Christian Kirk to have a big day against the Texans secondary. As Derek Stingley and Steven Nelson have done a good job in coverage so far this season. However, Calvin Ridley has been a big weapon for the Jags, and will have to be kept in check, if the Texans want to keep things close.

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The Texans host the Steelers at NRG this Sunday. Composite Getty Image.

What: Texans vs. Steelers

When: 10/1 12pm CST kickoff

Where: Houston, TX NRG Stadium

TV/Radio: KHOU-TV, KILT-Radio

Betting Lines: Steelers -2.5 (-120), O/U 42 (-110) *As of this writing

The Watt Brother Bowl takes place on Sunday. I'm calling it that because the Texans are honoring their all-time great J.J. while they're playing his younger brother and current hell raising edge rusher for the Steelers T.J. The Steelers have won four of the last five matchups vs. the Texans by an average score of 28-17. The biggest difference is that the Steelers have a second year starter at quarterback in Kenny Pickett, and the Texans have a rookie in C.J. Stroud. When you look at the two quarterbacks, both organizations have full faith in each guy. Both teams have tried to build a defense to help their young signal callers. Both are still trying to surround their franchise guys with weapons.

When the Steelers have the ball: Here's a game where Will Anderson Jr can make headway as a proven EDGE. Stacking consistent performances together and helping your team win games by making winning plays. It helps that Pickett has tiny hands. This was a knock on him during draft season last year. Hand size for a quarterback impacts grip. That can not only impact accuracy, but it could make it easier to strip the ball from him.

While he doesn't have the weapons to torch this defense, Pickett does hand the ball off to Najee Harris who's more than capable. Averaging only 67 yards rushing as a team can't be taken lightly. Denzel Perryman is expected to miss the game Sunday, so hopefully that won't help jumpstart the Steelers' run game. The Texans defense will have to key in on the run, given that they average giving up 117 a game on the ground. Those aforementioned weapons may not be scary, but the injuries to the defensive backs has hurt. Tavierre Thomas is expected to miss the game recovering from hand surgery. Jimmie Ward coming back last week showed what happens when they have a top safety back there, especially when the pass rush is turning up. Hopefully, the Texans can capitalize again this week, with safety Jalen Pitre expected to return to action.

When the Texans have the ball: Good luck stopping Tank Dell and Stroud! These guys have already established themselves as a formidable duo three games into their careers. A great way to get that connection going is to pound the rock. The Steelers are giving up over 150 yards on the ground per game so far this season. That's also a good way to keep T.J. at bay while J.J. watches. With Laremy Tunsil and Josh Jones both expected to miss the game, here are the offensive line starters: Austin Deculus, Kendrick Green, Jarrett Patterson, Shaq Mason, and George Fant.

Making the younger Watt brother slow down a bit instead of going balls to the wall after Stroud because a run could be coming will help the pass game tremendously. Stroud will have to continue to make quick decisions, but even quicker this game. I wouldn't be surprised to see his first pick of his career here, given the pressure he's most likely to be under. Especially when your offensive line starters were mostly all backups to begin this season.

Outcome: I failed to place a money line bet on the Texans last week because the game started and the live bet wasn't as profitable. I wanted to take a chance on them given their recent record against the Jags. Looking at their last five vs. the Steelers, one would say why make that bet this week? It's because I believe in Stroud more than I believe in Pickett. While T.J. Watt is a different kind of monster, Will Anderson Jr is on his way to becoming something special. Texans win/cover, and hit the over, but barely: Texans 24, Steelers 20.

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