The Houston Texans and the Baltimore Ravens are set to square off in NFL playoff betting action this week at M&T Bank Stadium. But before you make your NFL picks for the big game on Sunday, check out some of the great NFL betting trends that we have for the duel!
Houston Texans Notes: The Texans were able to survive their first playoff game in team history on Saturday, but this time around, things are going to be a heck of a lot harder going on the road against a significantly better Baltimore team. QB TJ Yates will forever live in folklore in Houston, but the names that you would come to expect like RB Arian Foster and WR Andre Johnson were able to make the plays that really decided the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. A win in this one would clearly be the biggest in franchise history, but even if the Texans were to crash out of the playoffs by 45 points in this game, it would already be considered the best season that the team has ever had. The Texans actually did well against playoff teams this year, and including last week’s win against Cincinnati, they are 4-2 SU and ATS against teams that are playing in the postseason.
Though both Foster and Johnson had their big games and Yates is the man that is always under scrutiny, the men that we are going to highlight in this one are DE JJ Watt and LB Brooks Reed. A lot of the accolades for this defense go to the additions of DBs Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning, along with the hiring of DC Wade Phillips, Watt and Reed have really been the difference makers on this defense this year. Reed had a tough job, stepping into the weak side linebacker spot in the 3-4 that was once patrolled by DE Mario Williams at the start of the year. Reed had six sacks in the regular season in spite of the fact that he only started 11 games. He only had five tackles and a sack against the Bengals, but his speed off the corner proved to be the perfect complement to that of LB Connor Barwin on the other side of the field. Watt was probably the MVP on Saturday. He had a sack, had his hands in on some others, made two tackles for loss, and picked off a pass and took it back 29 yards for a TD at the end of the second quarter in the play that truly changed the whole game. Watt, out of the 3-4 end spot, had 49 solo tackles and 5.5 sacks this year, and the argument could be made that he should be in the Pro Bowl as a rookie.
The only new injury of note is the one to TE Owen Daniels. Daniels was already battling a knee injury coming into the playoffs, and now, he has a hand injury that is going to require x-rays this week. He is listed as questionable on the early injury report for the AFC Divisional round, and his season could be over with if he has any broken bones. This would be bad news for a team that has already lost two other men that have been Pro Bowlers in the past, Williams and QB Matt Schaub for the season.
Baltimore Ravens Notes: This is going to be a bit of an odd situation for the Ravens, as they are playing a playoff game at home. They have been a Wild Card in the AFC playoffs for each of the last three seasons with QB Joe Flacco, and though he has had all sorts of success as the guest starting quarterback in the postseason, you can bet that he is going to be thrilled to be suiting up at home for the first time in the playoffs. Baltimore won the AFC North this season, and there are many that think that it is the best team, not just in the conference, but in all of football. The Ravens won six games this year against playoff teams and went 5-1 ATS in those six, including knocking off the Pittsburgh Steelers twice to win the division in spite of the fact that the teams ultimately ended up with the same record. This Baltimore team almost always plays to the level of its competition, and it has to hope that it doesn’t look down upon a Houston team that will almost certainly be looked upon as the weakest left in the postseason coming into this week.
Running against the Houston defense has been difficult all season long, but RB Ray Rice was one of the few men that was able to do it. Rice had over 160 total yards in the first win this year against the Texans, and if he does that again in this one, Baltimore is probably going to be on its way to the AFC Championship Game. Rice has started in four playoff games over the course of the last two years, and he had over 110 total yards of offense and four total TDs in those four outings. When Rice is on his game, the Baltimore offense is tough to slow down, so expect to see plenty of Rice in this one on Sunday.
The week off was a blessing for WR Anquan Boldin, who sat out the end of the regular season with a knee injury. It looks like the former Florida State Seminole is going to be ready and raring to go this week, and that’s a great thing for the Ravens considering that he had eight catches and over 130 receiving yards the first time that these two teams met this year.
Head To Head: This is the second meeting of these season of these two teams. The Texans were brutalized 29-14 in the first go around, and that was before all of the injuries to all of the quarterbacks. Baltimore has never lost to Houston, going 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS, and it clearly has the better playoff pedigree for this game. This is going to be the third time that the Texans have visited M&T Bank Stadium, and they lost 29-14 this year and 16-15 in 2005. The ‘over’ has gone 3-2 in the five game, put the ‘total’ came up short by a point in the first meeting this year. Both ‘unders’ have come here in Baltimore in this series.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.