The Baltimore Ravens play host to the Houston Texans in a pivotal AFC showdown that carries many playoff implications. The Ravens are red hot on the back of an MVP caliber season by quarterback Lamar Jackson. The same can be said about the Texans who are right in the thick of the AFC playoff picture with the stellar play of their own dual-threat quarterback, Deshaun Watson. The Ravens opened as five-point home favorites with a projected total score of 51.5 points. The weather calls for a high of 45-degrees with moderate wind and no precipitation.
ATS (Against the spread)
Texans +5 (-110)
This game pits two of the leading candidates for the MVP award against each other as both teams jostle for playoff positioning in hopes to gain a first-round bye and home field advantage in the AFC. The Ravens are the hottest team in the NFL right, winners of five straight games and boasting an offense that has looked virtually impossible to stop.
With the top scoring offense in the league, the Ravens defense has come on as of late after struggling mightily to start the year, giving them the look of the most balanced team in the NFL. The Texans offense has been no slouch either, averaging 26.4 points per game which is 8th in the NFL. Defensively, they have been solid, but they struggle against the pass, allowing 277 yards per game through the air which is 29th in the NFL. Jackson has proven he is an improved passer and if the Texans sell out to stop the run, he is more than capable of shredding them through the air.
Houston has been involved in a lot of tight games this season with six of their eight contests decided by seven points or less and hold a 3-3 record in these games. The Ravens are the healthier team as the Texans will be without wide receiver Will Fuller and the heart and soul of their defense, J.J. Watt. Houston will be coming off their bye week, giving them extra time to prepare and game plan against Jackson and the Ravens offense. This game has the feel of a shootout, similar to the last time these quarterbacks met back in college in a game that turned into an instant classic. It’s going to come down to which quarterback makes the most plays at the end of the game and it’s hard to bet against Jackson at this point.
The Ravens have the better defense and will be looking to back up their signal caller with a fourth quarter stand. The Texans continue to come up just short in big games as the Ravens take a two-game lead for a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Prediction: Ravens 30 Texans 27
Over 51.5 points
Everything about this match up screams shootout featuring two teams that rank in the top-10 in scoring offense. The Ravens pass defense is much improved from their early season struggles and will pose a big test for Watson through the air.
Much like the Ravens, the Texans deploy one of the better running games in the NFL while both defenses are stout in stopping the run. This means that both quarterbacks will need to get it done through the air which should translate to plenty of points on the scoreboard. Both quarterbacks have something to prove and will certainly be looking to stake their claim for the MVP award. Expect enough fireworks from both sides to support this high total point projection in what should be an exciting, high scoring game.
Deshaun Watson total passing touchdowns – Over 1.5 (-164)
While the Ravens secondary is much improved and one of the better positional units in the NFL, they are still susceptible to allowing some success through the air. Watson has proven to be match up proof and they will certainly need to take some shots through the air to keep up with the Ravens high-powered offense. With a total point projection of 51.5 supporting multiple scores, passing touchdowns will be inevitable and Watson is near the top of the league in that category.
Lamar Jackson total passing yards – Over 232.5 (-112)
For all the reason touched on above, expect the passing game to be much more involved than it’s needed to be in recent weeks. The Texans boast the third-ranked run defense in the NFL, although I’m not sure that matters when playing against Lamar Jackson. A high point projection coupled with a strong run defense on Houston point to the Ravens leaning on the passing game more than usual.
Marquise Brown will have a mismatch no matter where he lines up on the field against a less than formidable Houston secondary. All three Ravens tight ends have showcased their receiving chops, leading the league with 83 receptions for 949 yards, proving to be a match up nightmare. Jackson will need to do more with his arm than usual, leading to a passing day that will exceed this total projection
Mark Ingram total rushing yards – Over 52.5 (-112)
Last week against the Bengals he ran for only 34 yards on nine carries, but due to game script was not needed as much. While the theme of the day may be the play of Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, Ingram will be relied upon heavily to move the chains and set the tone with physicality. The Ravens will need to stay true to the run in order to deliver on the big plays that will be needed to win this game. I’m expecting plenty of volume for Ingram to comfortably outperform his projected total this week.
Week 10 Recap
Ravens -10.5 (-105) - WIN
Under 44.5 - LOSS
Mark Andrews total receptions: Over 3.5 (-146) - WIN
Mark Andrews total receiving yards: Over 49.5 (-112) - WIN
Mark Ingram total rush attempts- Over 13.5 (-102) - LOSS
Season Record: 24-16 (60%)