3. This is a key early-season game for the Steelers
Currently sitting in a three-way tie with Baltimore and Cleveland for first in the AFC North, one game ahead of Cincinnati, the Steelers must win games like this in order to make a run at the division crown.
In recent years, the Steelers have struggled out of the gates far too often. Last year they started 1-4 and missed the playoffs by one win. In 2021, the Steelers started 1-3 and made the playoffs as a wild card.
The Steelers have won the AFC North three times since 2016, and each time they had a record of 3-1 or better after four games played.
So, to say this is a key early-season game is not hyperbole. Especially with games coming against the Ravens (Oct. 8), at the Rams (Oct. 22), and home against the Jaguars (Oct. 29) to round out the rest of the month.
The Texans are led by a first-year head coach in DeMeco Ryans, who led one of the very best defenses in the league at San Francisco last season. But he’s still learning, as are standout rookies Stroud and Anderson.
Houston finished 3-13 last season, going winless at home, and they are 0-9-1 in their last 10 home games. The Texans’ last win at NRG Stadium was on December 26, 2021, when they defeated the Chargers, 41-29.
Pittsburgh has won five consecutive games on the road, a streak that started with a 24-17 win at Indianapolis on November 28, 2022.
All signs point to a Steelers’ victory, but as longtime fans can attest, it never seems to be that easy. This has all the makings of a “trap” game, with the Steelers coming off a big road win to “right the ship”. This is the type of game that Pittsburgh has lost on more than one occasion in recent years.
Therefore, it’s crucial for the Steelers to focus on their preparation leading up to the game, and for them to go out and execute during this much-anticipated tilt. In this league, anything can happen.
Just ask the Jaguars, the pre-season favorites of the AFC South, who were routed by this same Texans team, 37-17, in Jacksonville just one week ago.
Unless noted, all statistics provided by pro-football-reference.com