Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans
The Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans kick off Sunday NFL Playoff action as they meet in Baltimore. The Ravens are -7 point favorites over the Texans with an over/under point total set at 36.5.
The Baltimore Ravens had their share of ups and downs this season but when all was said and done they were the AFC North champions and earned a first round bye in the playoffs. After a week off the Ravens return to the field and while this team is a blend of younger and older players the week of rest couldn’t do anything but help this team. Joe Flacco didn’t have a stellar year as he completed 57.6 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and while his numbers are modest, they are an improvement over where they were earlier in the year. Ray Rice has done it all for Baltimore rushing for 1,364 yards and 12 touchdowns and catching 76 passes but Ricky Williams has played well in his situational chances. Anquan Boldin saw a ton of coverage and he caught 57 passes, Ed Dickson had 54 catches and five touchdowns but had some easy drops, and Torrey Smith emerged with 50 catches and seven touchdowns. The Ravens allowed just 288.9 yards and 16.6 points per game with a plus two turnover ratio, the result of 15 interceptions and 21 fumble recoveries. Lardarius Webb had five interceptions while Ray Lewis had 95 tackles despite missing action and Terrell Suggs had 14 sacks. The Ravens have thrown up some poor efforts at times but most of those came on the road.
Before the season began the Houston Texans didn’t have a playoff appearance, after last Saturday they now have a playoff win. The Texans shook of an early deficit to the Cincinnati Bengals and won going away to make it to be two games from the Super Bowl. T.J. Yates played well within himself completing just 55 percent of his passes with a touchdown but no interceptions and he had a few passes dropped. Arian Foster ran with a purpose for 153 yards and two touchdowns and Ben Tate carried nine times with a 4.1 yards per carry average. Andre Johnson looked rusty catching five passes and touchdown and Owen Daniels took some big hits catching two passes in traffic. The Houston defense allowed just 285.7 yards and 17.4 points per game all season and they were rock solid agin on Saturday sacking Andy Dalton four times and picking him off three times. J.J. Watt had an interception return for a touchdown and Danieal manning and Jonathan Joseph each had interceptions and Brian Cushing had eight tackles. The Texans appeared unfazed by it being their first time in the playoffs and they will need to keep the same focus in their first road playoff game.
Baltimore is 5-0-1 against the spread against a team with a winning record, 4-1 against the spread in their last five playoff games as a favorite, and 1-3-1 against the spread in their last five home games. Houston is 4-0-1 against the spread against a team with a winning record, 4-1 against the spread in their last five road games, and 5-1-2 against the spread against AFC teams. Baltimore has covered in four of the last five meetings of these two.
The total opened at 38 and has been sliding ever since but while I see it to be fairly low scoring, it’s getting a little out of hand and for my pick I will play the over.