The AFC divisional playoffs get underway this weekend when the Houston Texans travel to Baltimore to take on the relentless Ravens. The Houston Texans used defense and a sound running game to get by the Cincinnati Bengals and were awarded with a trip to Baltimore.
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The NFL Playoff spread for this game opened with the Ravens as 7.5 point favorites and that number has since moved to nine points at many online sportsbooks. The big move was pushed by early wagering as the consensus shows nearly a split with 51 percent of the early money coming in on the Texans.
This will be the second meeting for these two clubs as the Texans lost an earlier game in Baltimore by the final score of 29-14. As expected it was the Ravens defense that powered the win. Texans running back Arian Foster was stymied by the defense gaining just 49 yards on the day. This game will be much different for the Texans because it will be the first time rookie quarterback TJ Yates will face the Raves defense.
For the Ravens offense it’s all about running back Ray Rice. Rice carries the offense and gained over 100 yards in the first meeting with the Texans. Houston held the Ravens in check with just 32 yards rushing overall in the first half, but that changed at halftime as Rice broke big runs in the second half. The Texans will try to force Joe Flacco to pass the ball. Flacco had two turnovers in the first meeting and the Ravens struggle when he has to lead the way
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The Texans are playing great football right now and the Ravens are susceptible to the upset. The Ravens have played flat in the past and the Texans front can contain Ray Rice and force Flacco to try and win the game. Trusting a rookie under center is tough to do, but the Texans coaching staff keeps the game manageable for the youngster. Wide receiver Andre Johnson (who did not play in the first game) is a difference maker on the outside and will be the main target of Yates.
The Ravens are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games as a home favorite and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Divisional Playoffs games. The Texans are 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 games as an underdog, 4-0-1 ATS in their last five games following a win of more than 14 points and 7-2-2 ATS in their last 11 games overall.
The Texans may not pull off the victory, but they will keep it close enough to take these points. While other teams like the Giants and Broncos seem like the upset pick of the week, it may be the Texans that surprise in the NFL Playoffs.
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