The Pittsburgh Steelers kick off the 2008 season with a home matchup vs the up and coming Houston Texans and Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon. The Steelers were 10-6 in 2007, AFC North Champs before getting knocked out in the Wild Card Round by the Jaguars. The Texans were 8-8, and feel with a healthy year they can make some noise in the very tough AFC South.
The Steelers are very tough at the start of the season, as they look for their 6th straight opening day win. Last season they dominated the Browns on opening day, and QB Ben Roethlisberger is 2-0 as a starter in openers. They will have new weapons on offense, as they added RB Rashard Mendenhall and WR Limas Sweed in the draft. They need a good day from their O-line, as they made a change at center recently, giving the job to former Panther Jeff Hartwig while shipping former center Sean Mahan back to the Buccaneers, where they signed him from before the 07 season.
Look for Pittsburgh to attack the weak Texans secondary with a variety of 3 and 4 wide out sets. Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward make up a good WR core, and TE Heath Miller will also get in the mix. They also can run out of the spread with Willie Parker. These matchups will be tough for the Texans to overcome, and it will come down to how effective Texans QB Matt Schaub is against the number one ranked Steelers D from 07.
Schaub has to get time to throw from his O-line. He’ll look to favorite target Andre Johnson a lot, who should have a good day vs Ike Taylor. The Texans need some sort of support from their running game, and are counting on RB Ahman Green to stay healthy for more than one play, and be able to give them some sort of ball control with a ground game that has struggled over the years.
Look for the Steelers to walk out of Sunday with another opening day win, as Roethlisberger and the offense will be too much for the Texans, and Dick LeBeau will throw the kitchen sink at Schaub, leading to his downfall and the downfall on this Sunday for Houston.