Check out these predictions from contributing writers on Baltimore Beatdown and come back at 11am to see my take on the Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans Divisional Round Playoff Game:
The Texans and Ravens are remarkably similar teams. They both rely on stout defenses to complement a strong ground attack, supported by competent-to-good/very good QB play. While utilizing different types of receivers, both passing offenses do have quick strike weapons at their disposal (AJ for Houston,Torrey for Baltimore); and both play to leverage the running game to open up those quick strike opportunities. And while the Texans defense is technically statistically slightly better, through the lens of a typical football game, this is a wash.
AJ may tip the scales for the Texans in receiver comparisons, but I believe Baltimore has the edge for QB. The 900-pound gorilla in the room is that the game is being played in Baltimore, after Baltimore has had an extra week to rest up and get healthy – don’t discount the importance of the extra healing time. Young quarterbacks (rookies, year-1, year-2, etc) are a collective 0 – 9 over the past four seasons, including this past year in Baltimore. Baltimore’s low scores for its home games this season were 16, 20 and 24. And the 16 was against one of the best defenses in the league, San Francisco. The other five were 29 points or more. The two highest scores allowed by the defense were 27 and 24. The rest were 17 or below.
I just don’t see rookie TJ Yates, even with AJ, even with Foster, even with a one-handed Owens scoring more than 20, at the most. Tossing out the highest and lowest for each, the average score at M&T was 28 – 13 in the Ravens favor this past season. Our defense overall may be ranked slightly below Houston’s, but our defense is the best at ruining QB’s days – period. First home playoff game in the Harbaugh-Flacco-Rice era, the decibel meter will be pegged. I think M&T will truly be the new "World’s Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum" on Sunday. I just do not think the Texans will be able to overcome that.
This game will be lost/won in the trenches. To the Texans credit, they will make this a knock-down drag-out old-school AFC North-like snot-bubble war of attrition, but that is our bread and butter, especially at home. I believe the x-factor will be AJ & TJ vs. Reed’s over the top help. If they are able to beat Reed deep and Reed is not able to pick one or two off, that may be enough for the Texans to squeak one out. Vegas likes the Ravens to the tune of anywhere from 7.5 to 9 (?!?!) point favs; I think, tipping my 10-gallon hat to the Texans, it will closer: Ravens, 24 - 20. Interesting post-script: for the state of Texas, currently both the Texans and Cowboys have the same number of playoff wins since 1997...
(See more Baltimore Beatdown writer's predictions as well as a link to another one after the 'Jump')
When these two teams met earlier in the season they were both very different. The Texans traded out Matt Schaub for Andre Johnson and the Ravens were still getting to know themselves as a unit. However, I expect the game to go pretty much the same way.
The Texans will hang tough for the first half, keeping the Ravens offense to a touchdown and two field goals. Their offense however will have a very rough day in Baltimore. Houston will only manage two field goals by halftime and go into the locker room down 13-6.
The second half will be a different story. Baltimore will start to open up the passing game. This will soften the defense for Ray Rice as well. Baltimore will win the second half battle 17-10 for a final score of 30-16 Ravens.
(Also, check out the game preview from the SB Nation-Indiana Regional Hub)