Point spread: Baltimore -9
Total line: 35.5
The Houston Texans will march into M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday afternoon to battle the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC showdown in the Divisional Round of this season’s NFL playoffs. Kick-off is slated for 1 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on CBS.
Houston made a statement in last Saturday’s Wildcard Round that it should not be taken lightly in these playoffs with a 31-10 beatdown of Cincinnati as a four-point home favorite. The win raised its overall record to 11-6 straight-up and a healthy 10-5-2 against the spread. The Texans will now have to prove it can win on the road where they went 5-3 both SU and ATS this season. The total has gone 7-10 in their 17 games.
Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates will not win any awards for his performance against the Bengals, but he managed the game well and took care of the ball. The key to getting past the Ravens lies solely in Arian Foster and the Texans’ ability to run the ball. Last week he racked-up 153 yards on just 24 carries and scored twice.
By virtue of a head-to-head tiebreaker, Baltimore won the AFC North and crucial No.2 seed over Pittsburgh after both teams ended the regular season 12-4 SU. The Ravens were 8-7-1 ATS overall and the total went 10-6 in their 16 games. They did go a perfect 8-0 SU at home this year, but were just 4-3-1 ATS with the total evenly split at 4-4.
Everyone knows that Baltimore’s formula in this game will be to control the line of scrimmage with Ray Rice and its running game while relying on the league’s No.2-ranked rushing defense to shut Houston down. That is all fine and well, but somewhere along the line on Sunday, Joe Flacco is going to have to step up and make some plays with his arm to secure the win.
The Texans are 3-0-1 ATS in their last four games as underdogs and 7-2-2 ATS in their last 11 games overall. The total has gone ‘over’ in seven of their last eight games as underdogs on the road.
The Ravens are 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games as favorites at home and 1-4 ATS in their last five Divisional Round playoff games. The total has stayed ‘under’ in four of their last five playoff games as favorites.
Baltimore rolled to a 29-14 victory as a seven-point home favorite over Houston earlier this year. It is now 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings. The total stayed ‘under’ the 43.5-point line, but it has gone ‘over’ in three of the other four meetings.
The Ravens will be next to impossible to beat at home, but stick with the Texans’ defense to keep this game close until the end.
The Free NFL Pick: Baltimore 23 Houston 17
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.