Baltimore Ravens (5-3), -1, 42 O/U at Houston Texans (3-5)
Reliant Stadium, Houston, T.X., 1:00PM Eastern, Sunday
By Jay Horne of predictem.com
The struggling Houston Texans host the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday in an AFC battle. Baltimore finds themselves still in the early playoff picture and will try to improve their chances against Houston. The Texans despite a disappointing year has played well at home only losing once this season at Reliant Stadium. Houston will try to impress the home crowd once again this weekend.
Baltimore comes into the contest fresh off a 37-27 victory over the Cleveland Browns improving their season record to 5-3. Baltimore is 2nd place in the AFC North and their season record is good enough to have them as legitimate contenders in the playoffs. The Ravens have won 3 straight ball games and seem to be shaping into a solid football team led by a great defense.
Houston was beaten last week by the Minnesota Vikings 28-21. Prior to that game the Texans had won 3 straight ball games at home. Houston has been a team that has been progressing through the year despite having a slow start where they lost their first 4 games. The reason for the emerging offense was it’s new found success in the passing game due to the success on the ground by rookie RB Steve Slaton.
The bookmakers opened the line this week favoring the Ravens by 1 point. A large percentage of the betting public is betting along with the Ravens to the tune of nearly 90%. The over/under for the contest has been posted at 41.5. Early betting numbers are slightly favoring the over. Moneyline numbers have Baltimore at -120 and Houston at even money.
Baltimore’s defense has made a fierce reputation for themselves in the past decade for being one of the best in the NFL. This year much is the same as the Ravens are ranked No.2 in the NFL in total yards holding teams to only 246 yards per game. The Ravens also sport the No.1 ranked rush defense in the league only allowing 64 yards per game on the ground. The defense has been key in the Ravens success this season. In 6 of their 8 games, the Ravens have held teams to 13 points are less. Anytime you get that much help from the defensive side of the ball you have a chance to win games.
The Houston offense has come on strong in recent weeks finding ways to score points. Before last week, the Texans had scored 27+ points in five straight games before falling 28-21 to the Vikings. Houston has averaged 262 yards per game passing ranking them 4th in the NFL. The Texans are also responsible for the 5th best offense in total yards in the league at 373 yards per game. Despite the offenses success, the Texans have struggled to stop opposing teams on defense hence the 3-5 record. Defensively Houston has been close to bottom of the barrel. The Texans need some more solid play defensively in order to become a really respectable team.
Houston has been led this season by WR Andre Johnson who leads the NFL in receiving yards racking up 834 yards already. Johnson has averaged 131 yards receiving per game in the last 5 contest and is averaging 13.9 yards per catch on the season. Johnson will be thrown to early on often this Sunday. QB Matt Schaub has been the starter this so far but will miss possibly up to 4 weeks after suffering a knee injury. Backup QB Sage Rosenfels will take over behind center. Rosenfels went 21-29 for 224 yards with 2 TDs and 1 pick, in the loss to the Vikings last weekend. Rosenfels has the ability to be a stable backup, but has tended to make mistakes at crucial times of the game which have directly cost the team losses to both the Colts and Vikings.
Offensively, QB Joe Flacco has been the leader of the Baltimore offense this season. Flacco has thrown for a little over 1400 yards this season completing 61% of his passes. Flacco has thrown 5 TDs but has managed to also throw 7 interceptions this season. WR Derrick Mason has been the only true stable receiver this season for the Ravens. Mason has caught 43 passes for 557 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Ravens rushing game has been solid this season with a trio of tailbacks seeing a good bit of action. Willis McGahee, LeRon McClain, and Ray Rice have all shared the work load. All 3 backs have nearly 350 yards this season. McGahee is the guy the Ravens would like to get the bulk of the carries but he has been hampered by an ankle injury in recent weeks that has limited his touches. Baltimore will run the ball often as they like to take ball control with strong rushing and solid defense.
Baltimore is 7-2 ATS in their last 9 contest. The total has gone over in 11 of their last 15 games. Houston is also seen the majority of their games on the over side. In 9 of their last 10 games the Texans have been on the over side. Houston has also been good ATS going 6-2 in their last 8 games. Another fun stat is Baltimore is 6-1 in their last 7 games when playing on a real grass field. (Houston real grass).
Jays Pick: Houston backup QB Rosenfels will see the best defense he has seen this season and I dont think that meeting goes well for a guy who seems to buckle and make poor decisions under pressure. Ravens roll.