On paper, there are a lot of similarities between the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1) and the Houston Texans (1-2), who meet Sunday at NRG Stadium.
Consider that both teams are coming off big road wins, with the Steelers picking up a much-needed 23-18 victory at Las Vegas, and the Texans pounding Jacksonville on the road, 37-17, for their first win of the season.
Both teams are depending on young, first-round quarterbacks to lead the way. Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett is in his second year, and despite a slow start to this season, he’s led the Steelers to nine wins in his last 12 starts dating back to last year.
Houston’s C.J. Stroud, the number two pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, is one of only five starting quarterbacks in the NFL to have yet to throw an interception this season. The Ohio State product has passed for 906 yards and four touchdowns along the way.
The quarterbacks are surrounded by a cast of similar players on offense. Pittsburgh has 6-3, 200-pound wide receiver George Pickens (13 rec., 238 yards, 1 TD), while Houston’s leading receiver is the 6-4, 215-pound Nico Collins (15 rec., 260 yards, 1 TD).
With the Steelers’ Diontae Johnson on the shelf due to a hamstring injury, Pickett has looked to fellow draft class receiver Calvin Austin III to pick up the slack. The 5-9, 162-pound speedster (4.32 in the 40 at the combine) has nine catches for 119 yards and a 72-yard touchdown grab on his resume after three weeks.
Conversely, the Texans have Tank Dell, a 5-10, 165-pound not quite as speedy receiver (4.49 in the 40 at the combine) who has 15 receptions for 251 yards and two touchdowns thus far. Dell also has a 68-yard touchdown reception to his credit.
A pair of cagey veterans round out the starting receiver tandems for both teams. The Steelers’ 30-year-old Allen Robinson (11 receptions, 100 yards, 0 TDs) has brought experience to the unit, as has the Texans’ 31-year-old Robert Woods (15 rec., 165 yards, 0 TDs).
At running back, the Steelers have the tandem of Najee Harris (35 carries, 139 yards, 4.0 yards per attempt, 0 TDs) and Jaylen Warren (17 carries, 55 yards, 3.2 yards per attempt, 0 TDs). The Texans counter with Dameon Pierce (40 carries, 100 yards, 2.5 yards per attempt, 1 TD) and Devin Singletary (20 carries, 70 yards, 3.5 yards per attempt, 0 TDs).
The commonalities don’t end there. On the offensive line, Houston starts former Steeler Kendrick Green at one of the guard positions. Green, the Steelers’ starting center as a rookie in 2021, didn’t play an offensive snap last season and was traded away to the Texans following training camp for a sixth-round pick in 2025.
While there are fewer similarities between the teams defensively, it’s interesting to note that the Steelers signed former Texans’ starting cornerback Desmond King, who was cut by Houston following training camp. King saw his first action for the Steelers against the Raiders, playing seven snaps on special teams.
Former Steelers starting cornerback Steven Nelson is also in his second season as a starter for the Texans. He is currently tied for the team lead with one interception after posting three interceptions in Pittsburgh from 2019-2020.
Despite all of the similarities noted above, there are three key advantages that Pittsburgh has, which I predict will lead to a 30-17 Steelers win.
Let’s take a closer look at each of them: