Costly miscues & injuries aside, Houston Texans have plenty to build on in these critical areas

A new era of Houston Texans football kicked off over the weekend with DeMeco Ryans and company falling short against the Baltimore Ravens on the road.

While the outcome wasn't what the team and fans wanted, there were some positives to take away from the contest. Despite an abundance of injuries to the Texans in the preseason, the team was able to keep things close, with the Ravens up 7-6 at halftime.

The start of the third quarter is when things started going sideways for Houston. At this point in the game, both of the Texans backup safeties were in the game with Jimmy Ward ruled out earlier in the week, and Jalen Pitre leaving the game with a bruised lung right before halftime.

The Ravens capitalized, getting their run game going and eventually winning the game 25-9. The Texans couldn't get anything going on offense, with the running game struggling and CJ Stroud taking big sacks in crucial situations.

Texans running back Dameon Pierce only had 13 touches over the course of the game, with Mike Boone getting work on third down, and Devin Singletary adding 7 rushes for 15 yards. This felt all too familiar with Pierce. He was limited to 12 touches in the season opener last season, with Rex Burkhead get way more opportunities.

While the Texans don't want to run Pierce into the ground, 13 total touches in Week 1 doesn't seem like enough. And not having one of your best weapons on the field on third down, feels like a mistake.

Finally, we discuss some encouraging flashes from Texans rookie pass rusher, Will Anderson.

Be sure to watch the video above as we share our top takeaways from the game, and examine the areas the Texans can improve on before facing the Colts at NRG this Sunday.

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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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