If the Houston Texans hope to advance to their first ever AFC Championship game, they’ll need to beat the Baltimore Ravens for the first time in franchise history. The two teams meet Sunday afternoon in the AFC Divisional playoffs at M&T Bank Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 1:00 PM ET.
Coverage of this Divisional Playoff matchup will be on CBS and the weather figures to be nearly perfect with clear skies, no wind and 30 degree temperatures.
Texans, champions of the AFC South, beat Cincinnati last week 31-10 in their
first playoff game but will be in deep against the Ravens who are 5-0 SU and
4-1 ATS all-time vs. Houston. In their first meeting in Week 6 in Baltimore,
the Ravens beat the Texans 29-14 outgaining them 402-293.
Hold the Rice
Ray Rice, who had 161 yards from scrimmage in their first game, is priority one for the
Texans. Houston believes that they’ve got the defense to keep Baltimore QB Joe Flacco under
wraps, and will expect the Ravens to rely on their running game.
has struggled a bit in his playoff career, surpassing 70 rushing yards just
once in five games, but he has been piling up yards since the start of
December, totaling 809 yards (162 YPG) and five touchdowns in five games. Since giving up 113 rushing yards to Baltimore in Week 6, Houston has allowed
110 yards just once in the past 11 games (88 rushing YPG).
has been behind center for seven playoff games in his first three NFL seasons, all of which came on the road. That could explain his less than
stellar statistics; 98 of 184 passing (53%), 1,050 yards with four touchdowns
and seven interceptions.
Ground game leads the
running game was responsible for 188 yards in the win over Cincinnati, with Arian Foster accounting for 153 of those. The league’s fifth leading rusher also had
two touchdowns and gained an average of 6.4 yards per carry. However, this week
he’ll be facing the second-best run defense in the league (96.2 ypg.) Foster
was held to 49 rushing yards (3.3 YPC) in Baltimore in Week 6 while Ben Tate carried
nine times for 41 yards finishing the year with 942 yards (5.4 YPC.
Neither T.J. Yates nor WR Andre Johnson were in uniform for the first meeting with the
Ravens, but both played last week against Cincinnati. Yates completed 11-of-20
passes for 159 yards (8.0 YPA) and a 40-yard TD strike to Johnson to put the
game out of reach in the third quarter.
Yates and Johnson will be up against
the Ravens 4th-best pass defense in the league (196 ypg) which has been even
better at home. While Yates, thrown under center after season-ending injuries
to Schaub and Matt Leinart, has held his own, it remains to be seen how
he'll respond in a very unfriendly environment against a vaunted defense.
Baltimore led the AFC this season with 48 sacks.
Ravens ranked second in the NFL with 92.6 rushing yards allowed per game, while
the Texans were close behind, allowing 96.0 per contest.
In the record books
Texans have already accomplished one franchise first this season, in winning
a postseason game, but they'll need to accomplish another franchise first, which is beating the Baltimore Ravens to advance on to the AFC Championship. Houston
is 0-5 all-time against the Ravens, but three of those five losses have been by
six points or fewer, including an overtime loss last season.
What the NFL Odds makers have to say
The Ravens opened as -7.5 point favorites at most sports betting outlets, with the total dropping from 38 to 36.5. I have already provided you with my "Texans vs. Ravens: Betting the Total" article, but I would like to extend my NFL picks by adding a play on the spread.
Ravens went undefeated 8-0 SU at home this season, but were just 4-3-1 ATS.
Houston was 10-4 SU (10-3-1 ATS) on grass surfaces.
Take: The Texans will keep it close in a
low-scoring game. Take Houston and the points.