Baltimore Ravens (9-5, 7-6-1 ATS) @ Houston Texans (7-7, 9-5 ATS)

*ATS= against the spread

BETDAQ Line: Baltimore -5 (41.5)

Significant Injuries

Baltimore: DE Chris Canty (questionable– ankle)

Houston: WR DeAndre Hopkins (questionable– ankle), TE Garrett Graham (out– ankle), LB Mike Mohamed (out– concussion), QB Tom Savage (out– knee)

Recent Trends

Baltimore is 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing fewer than 15 points in their previous game

Baltimore is 3-9-1 ATS in their last 13 games vs. AFC opponents

Houston is 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games vs. AFC opponents

Houston is 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following a loss

Houston is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning

The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings between these 2 teams

The OVER is 4-1 in Baltimore’s last 5 road games

The OVER is 4-1 in Houston’s last 5 games following a loss

The UNDER is 4-1 in Houston’s last 5 games overall

Three reasons to back Baltimore

1. There is no gray area in this matchup: one team is clearly better, and that team is Baltimore. The Ravens have a superior record, they’ve performed better against the spread, they’ve scored more points, and they’ve allowed fewer points than Houston this season. Does that mean the Texans have no chance of winning? Of course not, we see upsets every week. But that’s what it would be– an upset. The better team will probably win, and those who are concerned about Baltimore covering the 5-point number should be comforted by knowing that each of the Ravens’ last 7 wins have come by 7 points or more.

2. Longtime Texans coach Gary Kubiak is now the offensive coordinator in Baltimore, and his unit has been extremely productive this season. The Ravens average nearly 27 points per game, they’ve scored 20 points or more in 9 consecutive games, and they’re very balanced, ranking in the top-half of the league in every major statistical category. They’ll be too much for a vulnerable Houston defense that ranks 24th in total yards allowed and 26th against the pass.

3. The Ravens have an excellent defense that allows just 19.1 points per game, the 6th-best mark in the league. Under normal circumstances you would expect them to have moderate success against the mediocre Houston offense, but these aren’t “normal circumstances”: the Texans have lost their top three quarterbacks to injury and have been forced to turn to Case Keenum, who they just signed off of the St. Louis Rams’ practice squad on Monday. Keenum was awful in extensive action last year, and he figures to be even worse this week considering the circumstances. It should be a run-heavy game plan for the Texans, which will play right in to the hands of a Baltimore defense that has surrendered fewer rushing yards than all but two teams leaguewide this season.

Three reasons to back Houston

1. Baltimore managed just 20 points last week against a Jacksonville defense that is surrendering nearly 27 points per game, so it’s tough to have much confidence in them in this spot, especially when you consider that only six teams leaguewide have allowed fewer points than Houston this season. The Texans are tough against the run, they have a ball-hawking secondary (17 INTs on the year), and, of course, they have the NFL’s best defensive player– J.J. Watt, a one-man wrecking crew on the line. The Ravens are going to have trouble scoring in this game, making the idea of backing them as a 4.5-point road favorite a non-starter for sharp bettors.

2. Injuries to their three top quarterbacks have forced Houston to bring back Case Keenum and name him the starter for this game, resulting in a tidal wave of Baltimore money at sports books around the world. Yes, the Ravens are a public favorite this week, but what people may be forgetting is that Keenum played extensively for the Texans last season and was with them in training camp this year, so he has a rapport with the receivers on the roster and he’s familiar with Bill O’Brien’s offense. He’ll be facing a Baltimore defense that ranks 30th against the pass, so he’ll certainly have every opportunity to shine. Beware of underestimating Keenum and this Houston offense.

3. Baltimore has been categorically overvalued ever since their Super win two years ago. They’ve covered just 3 times in their last 13 games against AFC opponents, including just once this season, and yet they haven’t been an underdog of more than 3 points in any game all year. The market simply regards the Ravens as better than they actually are, and the reverse is true of the Texans, who have been good against the number this season (9-5) and especially good in bounce-back situations, covering 6 times in their last 8 games following a loss.


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