While it’s very early, the Houston Texans appear to have made a wise decision by selecting Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud at No. 2 overall in this year’s draft. Stroud has been historically good through three weeks, but it might be wake-up call time Sunday against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers, who are 3-point favorites.
New England under Bill Belichick notably has crushed rookie QBs over the years, but no coach is better in that spot than Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, who is 23-4 vs. rookie signal-callers, the best winning percentage of any coach since 1950 in a minimum of 15 games. The four rookies to beat Tomlin? Troy Smith, Brandon Weeden, Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz.
That Pittsburgh has one of the NFL’s top defenses is certainly another reason Stroud, who is now the second-favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year behind Atlanta RB Bijan Robinson, might be looking at his toughest day yet as a pro.
Former #Steelers NFL Defensive Player of the Year TJ Watt could be in line for a second award – retired brother JJ won a record-tying three with Houston – as he’s the first player in league history with at least six sacks and a defensive touchdown in the first three games of a season since sacks were first tracked in 1982. The Steelers entered Week 4 leading the league in sacks (13) and QB hits (26) while ranking second in takeaways (8).
Stroud was sacked six times in Week 1 and five in Week 2, although the #WeAreTexans kept him clean in last Sunday’s 37-17 upset in Jacksonville. Stroud entered Week 4 fifth in the league with 906 passing yards – the most yards without an INT through three career games in NFL history. Stroud is one of four quarterbacks among those who started each of the first three weeks to have not thrown an interception.
With 244 passing yards against Sunday, Stroud will move into the Top 5 for most passing yards ever by a player in his first four career games. That No. 5 spot is held by former Ram Marc Bulger with 1,149 yards in 2002. The record is 1,386 by Carolina’s Cam Newton in 2011. Stroud can join Gardner Minshew (2019) as the only quarterbacks ever with no interceptions in his first four career starts (minimum 30 attempts in each start).
Stroud is -110 to throw a pick Sunday and the Steelers have four.
Pittsburgh is 5-0 SU and ATS in its past five road games, while Houston is winless in 10 straight at home (one tie) – the longest active streak in NFL & longest streak in franchise history. The Texans have lost 13 straight non-division games regardless of where.