What: Houston Texans vs Baltimore Ravens – AFC Divisional Round
Where: M&T Bank Stadium
When: Saturday, January 20th, 4:30 PM EST
The Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs begins on Saturday and in the AFC, we have an intriguing matchup between Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens and the surprising Houston Texans. The kick-off is scheduled for 4:30 PM EST at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore finds themselves at this point after winning the conference with a 13-4 record, earning a bye through the first round. As for Houston, they just barely snuck into the playoffs but absolutely thumped the Cleveland Browns 45-14 in the Wild Card Round behind a breathtaking performance from rookie quarterback CJ Stroud, who just had a stellar season. This should be an entertaining matchup. Keep reading for the Texans vs Ravens picks.
The Ravens are a -450 favorite on Saturday for an implied win probability of 81.82%. The Texans come back at +360 and have a 21.74% chance of taking this one. Baltimore is laying 9.5 points on the spread. The total in points is set at 43.5. The Ravens have won five of the last six against Houston, which is certainly a positive sign of what could happen here.
Texans Have Momentum
No one had high expectations for Houston coming into the 2023 season but CJ Stroud propelled this team to an impressive 10-7 record under first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans. Houston ultimately won the AFC South, finishing above the Jacksonville Jaguars. Stroud really put the league on notice, completing 63.9% of his passes for 4,108 yards and 23 touchdowns against five interceptions while also rushing for three scores. For a guy who many scouts had doubts about given his football IQ, Stroud proved all the naysayers wrong.
The former Ohio State standout was efficient as can be against Cleveland last weekend, completing 13 of 21 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns. The Texans only outgained the Browns 356-324, but they took advantage of their opportunities a lot more. Devin Singletary rushed for 5.1 yards per carry while out wide, Nico Collins reeled in six catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. Brevin Jordan and Dalton Schultz also had one TD apiece.
Houston’s offense is rolling at the moment, scoring over 60 points across the last two games. On the season, the Texans ranked 10th in total yards, seventh in passing yards, and 13th in points. But, even though Stroud and Co. are rolling, they will be up against one of the best defensive units in the NFL. It’s going to be a major challenge for this young group, which is looking to defy all the odds and knock off one of the Super Bowl favorites.
Ravens Have it All
There was never any question of what Baltimore could accomplish if Lamar Jackson stayed healthy. Many seasons in the past they’ve looked the part of a contender before the versatile quarterback suffers an injury. Thankfully, he’s been at 100% this season and we’ve seen what the Ravens can accomplish because of it. Lamar will likely win MVP after completing 67.2% of his throws for 3,678 yards and 24 touchdowns against only seven picks. Those numbers look good yes, but it’s the damage Jackson has done on the ground. He is Baltimore’s best runner, rushing for 5.6 yards per carry and 821 yards in total for five TDs. Lamar is a menace in every way imaginable.
He has no shortage of reliable weapons, too. Rookie Zay Flowers emerged as his top target, reeling in 77 grabs for 858 yards and five touchdowns. Mark Andrews has a team-best six receiving TDs but he’s out for the entire playoffs with an injury. Nelson Agholor, Odell Beckham Jr, and Rashod Bateman all have a minimum of 30 catches, too. As you can imagine, the Ravens’ rushing offense is the best in the NFL thanks to Jackson. They also sit fifth in total yards and fourth in points with 28.4. John Harbaugh’s group is 4-1-0 in their last five games, finishing the regular season with a loss to the Steelers. But, most of the starters didn’t play. Prior to that, Baltimore hammered the Miami Dolphins 56-19.
Defensively, the Ravens are a force to be reckoned with, as previously mentioned. They ranked first in the league in the fewest points allowed, takeaways, and sacks. Baltimore was also top-10 in interceptions, total defense, and passing defense. Yes, Stroud is flourishing, but with the home crowd behind them and all the confidence in the world, the Ravens should be able to slow him down enough to win this one and move on.
Texans vs Ravens Picks
I do think Houston’s road will end here against an experienced, well-equipped Ravens team that is built to make a Super Bowl and possibly win it. Baltimore has covered this spread in three consecutive meetings with Texans. They will again.