Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens Pick 11/17/19
Houston Texans (6-3 SU, 5-4 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (7-2 SU, 4-5 ATS)
NFL Week 11
Date/Time: Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 1PM EST
Where: MT&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
Point Spread: HOU +4.5/BAL -4.5 (5Dimes)
Over/Under Total: 50
The Houston Texans take on the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in a high-stakes AFC battle. A lot is on the line here, as both teams seem headed to the postseason and lead their respective divisions. After two straight wins, including a 26-3 win over the Jags in their last game, Houston had a bye last week. Since coming off the bye a few weeks back, the Ravens have been in top-flight and on Sunday, took it to a suffering Bengals squad, 49-13. Now at 7-2, the Ravens look to add a real notch on their belt.
The Fearsome Form of Baltimore
It’s been interesting to watch Baltimore grow, not just as a team, but in people’s minds this season. They opened the season with wins against Arizona and Miami, but consecutive losses to the Chiefs and Browns took them off people’s radar screens. They just kept winning and now sit with a five-game win streak. And sure, the opposition hasn’t been great every week, with two wins over Cincy, but the respect started ratcheting up. First came a two-touchdown win on the road over a really good Seattle team. A 37-20 win over New England at home really confirmed their status. And even if Cincy is suffering badly, the offensive bonanza Baltimore had last week rang of that undeniable quality that has them looking like a very legit threat heading into week 11.
All the pieces are in place for Baltimore, and it’s all spelled out what the roles are. Lamar Jackson is a dynamic force, both with his arm and feet. He works with a growing cast of weapons, with rookie Marquise Brown becoming a force, second-year tight end Mark Andrew doing likewise, and a solid and versatile back in Mark Ingram. The defense, while not what it was to end last season with a lot of departures and some costly injuries, is still managing to get better and in the previous four games has given up an average of just 16.5 points a game.
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Buy Low, Sell High
The memory of the casual NFL bettor can be short. Whereas Houston was off last week and out of vision, Baltimore was blasting out another opponent. Lamar Jackson was adding to his highlight reel. They were plainly in vision for all to see. That followed a high-profile win over New England, as the Ravens became the first team to beat the defending Super Bowl champions this season. That’s a lot of run in the press with everyone sky-high on the Ravens heading into week 11. The odds are set with that in mind, as Baltimore is a pretty robust favorite against a good team in Houston.
Of course, teams in great form often continue to play with great form and questioning it can come at a price for bettors. By the same token, there is something to be said for not buying into the hype as it pertains to NFL betting. When expecting water to boil, sometimes it doesn’t. This is still a team where the formula for success is a bit delicate. They had a five-week stretch without a cover a few weeks back and face a tough opponent this week.
Paths to a Cover for Houston
With four wins in their last five and coming off the bye, Houston could be tough to beat. With wins over the Chargers, Chiefs, and the smashing of the Jags in their last game, they’ve also shown their mettle on the road. They have one of the best offenses in the league, and the week off came at a good time for Will Fuller to get healthy, in addition to a couple of guys up front. Between Deshaun Watson at QB, with backs Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson, they can run the ball well and could present challenges even for a Texans’ run defense that is pretty tough. Another key is a Houston offensive line that hasn’t been that great in stopping the pass-rush. They hope that doesn’t manifest this week, though it hasn’t been a Baltimore strength.
The Baltimore secondary is a playmaking one, with Earl Thomas, Marlon Humphrey, and others. But they haven’t been particularly stout against opposing aerial attacks. With Watson connecting with his targets, difference-makers in DeAndre Hopkins, Fuller, and others, it could be a problem. Hyde has surpassed expectations on the ground and keeps defenses off-balance, as they can’t just focus on the passing game. The Baltimore offense has blown up, but their defense is readily more exploitable than before.
The Houston defense is a mixed bag. The front seven outshines the back by a considerable margin. They are robust against the run. That could be an issue for a Baltimore offense that needs the run to set up the rest. In addition, with Whitney Mercilus, DJ Reader, JJ Watt, and others, there’s a lot of rigidity and playmaking ability up front. The secondary has been flimsy and hasn’t made a lot of plays. But maybe against Baltimore that will be a weakness that comes through less.
Take the Road Underdog
It’s never easy betting against a team that might be playing better than any team in the conference. The Ravens are flying high now, and if they were to hit those high notes at home again, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise. I just see some different matchup wrinkles shaking out well for Houston, who got a bye week at a good time and should be fresh and pumped-up for this. The Texans will get some big plays through the air and do just well enough against the powerful Baltimore ground-game to register the cover on the road. I’ll take Houston.
Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Houston Texans plus 4.5 points.
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