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Texans vs. Ravens
AFC Divisional Playoffs
Pick With Analysis
The Houston Texans will make their 2nd trip to Baltimore this year to take on the Ravens, this time in the Divisional round of the AFC playoffs. The Ravens won the first meeting 29-14 against a Texans team playing without Andre Johnson. This time around, the Ravens are favored by -7.5 with a total of 35.5, the lowest total of the weekend. Odds courtesy of 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
The Ravens are a team we wanted to latch on to early in the year. It's a team that is built for playoff football. There were a few bumps in the road though this year, with the Ravens playing "un-Raven-like" football on several occasions, particularly on the road where they went just 4-4. They even stumbled at home, briefly, such as having to come from way behind to beat the Cardinals back in October.
But the stumbles at home were few and far in between for the Ravens this year. They went 8-0 at home and outscored opponents on average 27-15. Want more proof that home field advantage is huge? How about this. That Ravens have won 18 of their last 19 home games. Now they face a Texans team down to it's 3rd string QB, rookie T.J. Yates. Can you see Ray Lewis licking his chops?
Once again, credit the Texans for last weeks win over the Bengals. We said going into that one that the Texans have a system in place where they can plug just about any QB into it and be successful. But, it starts to get a little dicey when you go on the road, in the playoffs, against a team and a defense like the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens defense can take over a game and dominate. They will make T.J. Yates win this game with his arm and frankly, we don't think he can do that.
The Texans have a pretty good defense of their own, but we'll gladly take a playoff proven winner like Joe Flacco in a spot like this. We know Flacco can make the throws he needs to make. We can't say that about Yates.
We hate to beat a dead horse, but feel the need to reiterate our approach to games like these. If you're a Texans backer here, you can't bet the Texans because you feel they can "hang" within the number. No handicapper is that good, that they can predict exact margins. If they could (they can't), they'd be far better off betting some of the props offered by most sportsbooks for exact margins. In fact, they'd become wealthy doing so (they won't).
If on the other hand, you feel the Texans have an excellent chance of winning the game outright, then, you have yourself a very good bet on your hands, making the points a bonus.
As far as our take on this game, we have more than one method of handicapping an NFL game that suggests the number should be in the 4-6 range with Baltimore on top. For example, our NFL score model predicts a 21-17 Ravens win. But this game is similar to the Giants game last week, in that, we feel there are enough small edges for the Ravens here that when rolled up into one, make for one big edge.
Those edges include the home field, 8-0 this year and winning 18 of 19 at home. You can't ignore those numbers. You also can't ignore the rookie QB going up against this Ravens defense. Again, there are regular season games, and then there's an NFL playoff game, on the road, against a defense like the Ravens. It's a monumental task for even an experienced, veteran QB, never mind a rookie with just a few games under his belt.
Dominating defenses can take over games like this, especially at home. The Ravens will make Yates win it, and we say, he can't. We see the margin getting extended here and the Ravens moving on in a big way. We're not willing to lay over a touchdown here, so we'll watch the number. We'll either wait for a -7 to pop up. or we'll buy a half point. Either way, Ravens -7
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