Texans vs. Ravens Spread Doesn’t Move Off the -7.5

Written by:
Carrie Stroup
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Texans vs. Ravens Spread Doesn’t Move Off the -7.5

Carrie Stroup here all revved up for this weekend’s NFL Playoffs and we are seeing that the Texans vs. Ravens spread has remained unchanged.  Claim up to $250 in FREE CASH when you open an online betting account at Sportsbook.com here.  In business since 1997. 

Sportsbook.com Line: Baltimore -7.5 & 36

Opening Line & Total: Ravens -7.5 & 38

The Texans won their first-ever playoff game last week, and on Sunday they’ll try to beat Baltimore for the first time ever.

The Ravens (5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS all-time versus the Texans) used a big second half to pull away from Houston 29-14 the first time they met, Week 6 in Baltimore. And Houston still had starting QB Matt Schaub in the lineup. The Texans running game failed to get it going (93 yards, 3.7 YPC) against the Ravens’ elite run D that day, and Houston rookie QB T.J. Yates needs a successful running game. The third-stringer will have a tough time moving the ball in Baltimore, where opposing quarterbacks had a league-low 58.8 passer rating this season. The Ravens outgained the Texans 402-293, and won despite a minus-2 in the turnover department. Houston has the secondary to limit QB Joe Flacco, especially with WR Anquan Boldin, who burned Houston for 132 yards in their first meeting, breaking down physically. Stopping RB Ray Rice (101 rushing yards, 60 receiving yards in their first meeting) will be a whole other issue. The Ravens went undefeated SU at home this season, but were just 4-3-1 ATS. Houston was 10-4 SU (10-3-1 ATS) on grass surfaces.

Houston rushed for 188 yards (5.4 YPC) in the playoff win over Cincinnati, with 153 of those coming from Arian Foster. He gained 6.4 YPC and scored twice. The Texans are averaging 161 rushing YPG (5.0 YPC) over the past six weeks, while the Ravens have allowed 122 rushing YPG (4.3 YPC) in the past three games, considerably more than the 86 rushing YPG (3.3 YPC) they allowed in the first 13 games this year. Although Foster was held to 49 rushing yards (3.3 YPC) in Baltimore Week 6, he also gained 52 yards on six catches. Ben Tate was able to find more running room against Baltimore, carrying nine times for 41 yards (4.6 YPC). He finished the regular season with 942 yards (5.4 YPC) and gained 37 on nine carries in the win over Cincinnati.

Neither Yates nor WR Andre Johnson suited up for that Week 6 meeting, but both players performed at a high level against the Bengals. Yates completed 11-of-20 passes for 159 yards (8.0 YPA) and a 40-yard TD strike to Johnson to put the game out of reach in the third quarter. Johnson finished with five grabs for 90 yards, as he was targeted on nine of the 20 pass attempts. Johnson will be up against the Ravens 4th-best pass defense in the league (196 YPG), which has been incredibly stingy at home (51% completions, 171 YPG, 5.0 YPA). But the last time Johnson faced the Ravens (Dec. 2010), Johnso n exploded for nine catches, 140 yards and two touchdowns.

Flacco has already started seven playoff games in his first three NFL seasons, but none were at home. That’s a big reason for his subpar numbers in his postseason career: 98-of-184 (53%), 1,050 yards (150 YPG), 4 TD, 7 INT. Flacco had his second-highest YPA of the season (9.24 YPA) versus Houston though, when he connected on 20-of-33 passes for 305 yards. He did not throw a TD pass that game, but he has seven touchdown tosses over the past four weeks. With Boldin (knee) sitting out the season finale, Flacco threw 14 of his 19 passes to players, TE Dennis Pitta (6 rec, 62 yds, 1 TD) and WR Torrey Smith (5 rec, 33 yds). Smith had 84 receiving yards against the Texans this year, but if Boldin can’t go, Smith will likely be covered by Texans star CB Johnathan Joseph, who has played as well as any corner in the league in his first season in Houston. Joseph, who had seven tackles and an interception against Baltimore in Week 6, is the biggest reason Houston’s passing defense improved from last in the league in 2010 (268 YPG) to third-best this year (190 pass YPG).

Rice has struggled a bit in his playoff career, surpassing 70 rushing yards just once in five games. But he has been piling up yards since the start of December, totaling 809 yards (162 YPG) and five touchdowns in five games. But since giving up 113 rushing yards to Baltimore in Week 6, Houston has allowed 110 yards just once in the past 11 games (88 rushing YPG).

- Carrie Stroup, Gambling911.com Senior Reporter

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