The Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens will face off in an AFC divisional round matchup Sunday afternoon inside M&T Bank Stadium.

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens

The Houston Texans are a major player in the AFC playoffs due to their improved defense under coordinator Wade Phillips

Houston tallied its first-ever playoff win last weekend with a convincing 31-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals as four-point home favorites, as it looks to gain revenge from a 29-14 regular-season loss to Sunday’s opponent.  The Texans gave up 402 yards in that contest, including 305 through the air, something that has the unit looking to perform at a higher level in the rematch.  “Coach talked to us and he basically told us it wasn’t acceptable,” stated Texans linebacker Brian Cushing about Wade Phillips’ comments after that particular game.  The defense finished the regular season ranked second in allowing just 285.7 yards per game.  Houston is 4-2 ATS as an underdog this season.

The Texans have been ravaged by injuries this season, but rookie quarterback T.J. Yates has done just enough to keep the team alive for a potential Super Bowl berth.  He completed 11 of 20 passes for 159 yards in last week’s win over the Bengals.  Veteran wide receiver Andre Johnson seems to be fully recovered from lingering hamstring issues that caused him to miss a ton of time this year, catching a 40-yard touchdown during Wild Card Weekend.  Offensively, the Texans will likely try and establish some type of running game with Arian Foster, who ranked fifth in the league with 1,224 rushing yards.  The former Tennessee Volunteers star gained 153 yards on the ground last week.

Baltimore would love to get a shot at the New England Patriots in next week’s AFC championship game, as it looks to win its playoff opener for the fourth straight year.  The Ravens have played seven postseason games during the Jim Harbaugh era, with all of them taking place away from M&T Bank Stadium.  There’s no doubt that earning a first-week bye did this squad a world of good, including linebacker Ray Lewis, who missed some time due to injury this year.  “We have the team to do it now,” commented Lewis this week.  “We don’t have too many more excuses.”  Baltimore is 5-0 ATS when playing a team with a winning record this year.

The Ravens defense definitely gets after opponents, especially their quarterbacks, leading the AFC with 48 sacks.  Baltimore also ranked second in the league in giving up just 92.6 rushing yards per game.  On the other side of the ball, running back Ray Rice is a weapon on the ground or through the air, leading all players with 2,068 yards from scrimmage this year.  Quarterback Joe Flacco will definitely rely on him early, as he’s thrown four touchdowns and seven interceptions in seven career playoff games.

Bettors will likely back the Texans due to their 3-0-1 ATS mark as an underdog, while the Ravens are 1-4 ATS in the divisional round.

Recommendation:  Houston Texans +9

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