Jesse James

Steelers are road favorites against Texans on Christmas

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On top of missing wide receiver extraordinaire Antonio Brown, the Pittsburgh Steelers also take a dubious track record as a big favorite into their game against the Houston Texans on Christmas Day.

The Steelers are a nine-point road favorite (after opening as 10.5-point chalk) against the host Texans with a 45.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com for their NFL Week 16 Monday matchup.

The OddsShark NFL Database states that since 2004, when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was a rookie, Pittsburgh is 5-14 against the spread when favored by 7.5 or more points on the road. The Steelers, however, are 5-0 straight-up in their last five games on a Monday, while the Texans are 0-6 SU in their last six games as an underdog.

The Steelers, who are 11-3 SU and 6-8 ATS, were having enough trouble scoring points on the road when they had Brown, the 1,500-yard receiver. By the same token, Roethlisberger has other reliable receiving complements such as WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR Martavis Bryant and TE Jesse James, who are facing a Texans pass defense that is next-to-last in the NFL in yards per pass (8.2) and touchdown passes (27) allowed.

Despite all their injuries this season, the Texans have played the run well, so it might not be smooth sailing for RB Le’Veon Bell.

The Texans, who are 4-10 SU and 7-7 ATS, are reduced to starting third-string QB T.J. Yates behind an offensive line that has lost three starters since the outset of the season. Yates has completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes, while the makeshift O-line will have to stop Steelers DE Cameron Heyward.

Pittsburgh, which is 3-1 SU and ATS in its last four games against Houston, has been leaky against both the pass and the run lately, though. On the former count, CB Joe Haden is expected to play and help cover WR DeAndre Hopkins.

In the rushing phase, the Texans are reliable but unspectacular with veteran RB Lamar Miller. The success of Miller and the short passing game could help the Texans, who are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 late-afternoon starts, manufacture some time-consuming drives that keep the Steelers offense off the field.

The total has gone under in each of the Steelers’ last seven road games as a favorite of 7.5 or more points. The total has gone under in five of the Steelers’ last seven games in Week 16. The total has gone under in six of the Texans’ last seven games in Week 16.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.