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Get your fix for pigskin play with this NFL live stream watch guide

The 2014 NFL season is well underway. We’re well aware that many of you either don’t want to shell out for new TVs, don’t have bars near you that will carry the games you want to watch, or have one roadblock or another that prevents you from watching games.

If this sounds like you, keep reading, cause we’ll show you how to catch games this season using your PC or Mac.

Grab those jerseys people, it’s game time. First, here’s a primer on today’s game.

Houston Texans (3-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) 8:30 p.m. ET – ESPN This is a big game for the Texans, because they’ll be getting back top draft pick Jadaveon Clowney from injury, who is one of the best defensive end prospects to come out of college in years.Houston needs that infusion of talent, because despite J.J Watt’s brilliant play, the team has given up a lot of points. Houston surrendered 33 to the Indianapolis Colts in their previous game.

As for the Steelers, they’re a tough team to pinpoint. They lost to the Browns, and the Buccaneers, but also beat the Panthers, who just got wrecked by the Packers.

The point? This league is very, very hard to predict.

Famed former Steelers coach Bill Cowher recently called his old team “soft.” Will that motivate the squad to pick it up this week?

They better, if they want to maximize their chances to qualify for the postseason at the end of the year.

Monday Night Football: WatchESPN

WatchESPN is an online-only companion service and requires a cable subscription that includes ESPN. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have a cable package with ESPN, but you need to know at least someone who does and is kind enough to give you the username and password tied into their cable account.

ESPN holds the rights to air Monday Night Football games, meaning this method is only applicable to Monday’s games, but the WatchESPN app is available for phones and tablets, so you can watch wherever you are on Monday night.

Sunday: NFL Sunday Ticket

Starting this season, DirecTV will allow people to buy subscriptions of NFL Sunday Ticket without having to get a TV package on top of that. That’s right, no satellite dish required!

You’ll be able to choose from one of three new packages at three different price levels. One allows you to stream NFL Sunday Ticket to your computer, phone or tablet. The next step up allows you to stream directly to your video game console. The highest tier permits you to stream to all of those devices. The first tier costs $200, the next step up will run you $240, and the most expensive package will charge you $330.

Related: How to watch college football games online

The differences between the packages don’t end there though. The $200 package won’t let you stream to your console, but also omits the Redzone Channel, and Fantasy Zone, which “gives live looks at fantasy plays.” The $240 level also doesn’t include the Red Zone Channel or the Fantasy Zone, but lets you do everything else while restricting your streams to game consoles. The $330 deal wipes away all those restrictions, and simply checks “all of the above” on everything.

Keep in mind that blackout restrictions apply, and your eligibility for the service may vary. According to Forbes, the service won’t be available to addresses that DirecTV feels can “easily” get their full TV + NFL Sunday Ticket packages. However, it’s unclear what DirecTV means by “easily.” For what it’s worth, the service seems to be widely available to those living in apartments. Those who live in apartment buildings might be categorized by DirecTV as people who can’t get DirecTV so easily, considering that attaching a satellite to an apartment building isn’t the simplest of endeavors, as Forbes notes.

We spoke to DirecTV, and they confirmed that you won’t be able to use the NFL Sunday Ticket streaming package to watch Monday Night Football games, or Thursday Night Football contests. Sorry folks.

Sunday Night Football: NFL Mobile (Verizon)

Unfortunately, this is a mobile app that’s specific to Verizon. If you have a Verizon mobile subscription, you can download NFL Mobile, plug your phone into your computer or TV via a micro USB to HDMI cable, and watch Sunday Night Football that way. NFL Mobile will also stream the Super Bowl in 2015.

On top of that, for Verizon Premium and MORE Everything subscribers, NFL Mobile has been updated to include live streams of local games that are broadcast on CBS and FOX. Therefore, it doesn’t sound like local blackout rules apply here. However, if we read differently elsewhere, we’ll issue an update. Don’t underestimate the value of this method.

NFL Network

If you want to go straight to the source, the NFL Network offers access to streaming and RedZone, depending on your established plan and broadcast company. RedZone is the best way to watch all the Sunday games at the same time, and will roll through when teams are close to making a scoring play, often splitting the screen between two games. If you’re a fantasy guru this is a great way to stay on top of all your games, and you’ll never miss a touchdown. You have to be able to watch the NFL Network on your provider (sorry Comcast) but you could probably convince one of your friends on Verizon to let you use their account.

Questionable streaming sites

There exist a wide variety of online streaming sites which grant access to many live sporting events. Even though these sites provide largely unrestricted streaming, keep in mind that most come packed with spam and pop-up windows. This can be frustrating for most users but with some patience you’d have access to every NFL game. We don’t recommend heavy use of these bootleg streaming sites because even the slightest miscalculated click can infect your computer with a nasty virus.

Once you find these streaming sites on the Web, you’ll notice the deep selection of games available to you, but they’re often low quality. Sites like First Row Sports, Justin.tv, or VIPBox Sports are some of the most popular when it comes to streaming sporting events online. While these might be of use, the hassle of avoiding spam and dealing with low quality playback often make these services more of an inconvenience than a help.

The other option is to join in the discussion with the folks over on the NFL subreddit, who often post links to web-based streams, as well as high-quality streams that can be played from a web-enabled media player such as VLC. Again, these are unofficial streams that should be used at your own risk, but often you can look back and ensure that the poster hasn’t had any complaints in the past to gauge whether it’s a good idea to use their link. You can also keep an eye on the thread for the games you’re interested in for updates on scoring plays and read what other people are saying about the game.

Note: As a rule of thumb never click on any link which asks you to download any HD Players, update your streaming software, or to install any “required” media players. These are often just spam links which could infect your computer with viruses.

Related: How to connect your laptop to a TV, best fantasy football apps and the top fantasy websites.

DT writers Brandon Widder and Brad Bourque also contributed to this piece.

[Image courtesy of Twin Design/Shutterstock]