The rivalry between Pittsburgh and Houston goes back to the 1970s. The Steelers were the main team standing between the Oilers and the Super Bowl. Ever since then, tensions have been high between these two cities. Not coincidentally, the Texans are inducting J.J. Watt into the ring of honor on the same Sunday when his brother T.J. is coming to town. The younger Watt already has six sacks on the season as he seemingly aims to turn the Defensive Player of the Year Award into the Watt trophy.
Jarrett Bailey from our sister site behind the Steel Curtain was kind enough to join us for five questions. The two young quarterbacks will be part of the focus of Sunday’s battle, but the younger Watt could very well steal the show. The winner of this game will be in good position to challenge for their division lead. Of course, the focus starts on the quarterbacks.
Battle Red Blog: Kenny Pickett is in year two. How has he progressed as a quarterback? For Texans fans that may not have seen him, who could you compare him to stylistically?
Jarrett Bailey: In my opinion, Pickett has a low ceiling. He looked solid against the Raiders, but he was downright bad in Weeks 1 and 2. He’s not great off platform, he doesn’t have a huge arm, and he sometimes gets too predetermined with where he’s going with the ball. Stylistically, he’s a weird mesh of Jared Goff and Jake Locker. Not a huge arm, but can move around and scramble, and if he’s protected, can make short to intermediate throws.
BRB: The Pittsburgh defense has looked really good these first few games. What has been the difference so far this season?
JB: The pressure they get on the quarterback. T.J. Watt has been an animal with six sacks, but it hasn’t just been him. Markus Golden has been a nice depth signing, Alex Highsmith has played really well, Larry Ogunjobi really stepped up against Cleveland, and Keeanu Benton is starting to come into his own. They are doing all of this without Cam Heyward, which is even crazier considering how great he is.
BRB: Who are one or two players on offense and defense we may not have heard of but who should make a big impact on Sunday?
JB: Jaylen Warren and Calvin Austin on offense. Warren is a really good No. 2 receiving back, and Austin had a 72 yard touchdown against the Raiders. Defensively, Elandon Roberts has been a really good run stopper at linebacker and Elijah Riley at nickel cornerback was a guy who forced his way onto the roster in camp.
BRB: The AFC North is always an entertaining and hard fought division. How do you see it shaking out in the end? Who are the Steelers stiffest competition in the division.
I picked the Steelers to win the division and right now they’re in first place. The Bengals are obviously the cream of the AFC North crop, but Joe Burrow’s injury worries me. The Browns can’t develop a consistent offensive identity, and that’ll be harder without Nick Chubb. The Ravens just can’t stay healthy, which is why I don’t really trust them to be a contender. I’d say if Burrow’s calf isn’t a huge deal, the Bengals are still the biggest obstacle for Pittsburgh.
BRB: DraftKings Sportsbook has the Steelers as three point favorites for Sunday’s matchup. Are you comfortable taking the Steelers and the points? Are there any other prop bets you feel comfortable recommending?
I’m taking Houston to cover. The team is quietly really talented personnel-wise. I love what I’ve seen from C.J. Stroud thus far, as well as Tank Dell and Nico Collins. The Steelers had some troubles coming home and will have to go back on the road to play Houston, so already they’ve had a tough start to their week and I think that comes into play. I’ll hesitantly pick the Steelers to win, but the Texans will cover.
We want to thank Jarrett for sitting with us and answering our questions. We want to wish Jarrett and the Steelers the best of luck for the remainder of the season. Hopefully, that luck will start after Sunday.