The Houston Texans are headed to Baltimore to take on the 7-2 Ravens in a matchup between two potential playoff teams at 1:00 EST on Sunday afternoon. The Texans are riding a 2 game win streak along with wins in 4 of their last 5 games while the Ravens are winners of 5 straight after stumbling in weeks 3 and 4.
This matchup is obviously going to be focused on the two young quarterbacks in this game. Deshaun Watson is quietly having a really nice year with a team that continues to struggle to remain healthy. Lamar Jackson is currently second in the MVP race in the eyes of most and he has been revolutionary to begin the season after taking over for the Ravens midway through last year.
As I just mentioned, the Texans have been injury-riddled again this season because they have constantly lost supplementary pieces to Hopkins and Watson. With JJ Watt out of the season, the Texans defense should regress a bit moving forward as he is one of the best defenders in the league.
The good news for the Texans is that two key offensive players are looking like they may be able to play this week. Left Tackle Laremy Tunsil, who the Texans traded for early this year has been banged up, but coach Bill O’Brien said that he should be ready to go after the bye week. Another key offensive player, Will Fuller, practiced on Monday and I expect that he will play if he stays healthy until Sunday, which is seemingly a big ask for Fuller.
Before getting hurt, Fuller had quickly become what appeared to be the 1B option to Hopkins instead of being clearly behind him. Although Hopkins is the better receiver with much better hands and receiving skills, Fuller’s speed along with Watson’s threat to run really stretches defenses out and Fuller gets a lot of deep shot opportunities in this offense. The addition of him to this offense should allow for more big plays and a lot more room for the offense to operate.
Baltimore Offense Lethal
When the Ravens get the ball, I will be very curious to see how Houston defends Jackson. Jackson has been one of the biggest stories of the year and he has feasted on bad defenses in particular. This is not a slight to Jackson as he has great games against great defenses like the Patriots, but Jackson had a historical game against the Dolphins and another fantastic game against the Bengals.
While the Texans are not that bad as a defense, they are definitely not good, especially against the pass. The book on the Texans for the last several years is that the secondary is slow and the way to beat them is with speed. The Ravens have a lot of that on the perimeter and it also makes me concerned about the ability to stop Jackson when he gets to the second level.
The Texans are a good run defense allowing the third lowest yards per game on the ground. On the other hand, the pass defense ranks 29th and is really, really bad. The question for me in this game is can the Texans cheat pass and still hold the run game in check. If they can do that, I expect the Texans to win this game outright, but that is something that elite defenses have struggled mightily with.
The line on this game is -4 in favor of the Ravens with a total of 49.5. While I think that the Ravens should be favored here, I cannot take this number and give the Texans the three point loss in what projects to be a close game. Give me the Texans +4 here. When betting, go to our favorite pay per head bookie site at RealBookies.com
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