Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens Preview: Prediction, Best Bets, Odds, Depth Charts (1/20/24)

The Divisional Round of the 2023-24 NFL Playoffs commences Saturday (1/20/24) at 4:30 p.m. EST when the AFC No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens host the No. 4 seed Houston Texans. The Ravens are heavy favorites with betting odds for the spread set at -9.5 while the over/under is at 43.5 total points.

This article provides Texans vs. Ravens analysis, predictions and betting recommendations and explains why the best bet in this matchup is the Texans +9.5.

Texans vs. Ravens Prediction & Best Bet

Everything about this matchup indicates the Ravens should win this game easily and likely by double digits, more than enough to cover the spread.

They are rightfully heavy favorites after finishing the regular season with the best record, best point differential, best DVOA and 2nd best net EPA. They are also well-rested after sitting most of their starters in Week 18 and having a bye last week, and we are not particularly concerned about any issues with rust.

Home-field advantage also could be a big factor for Baltimore in this game, mainly because of the weather. While there should be no issues with rain or snow in this game, the current forecast calls for temperatures in the 20s with heavy winds of around 20 mph and gusts up to 35 mph. The Ravens are accustomed to playing in those type of conditions and the Texans are not.

Houston has played only two of its last nine games outdoors, and C.J. Stroud has played less than one full game in the wintery elements during his rookie season. The Texans had their worst game of the season in bad weather conditions against the Jets in Week 14, losing 30-6. Stroud exited that game late with a concussion and missed the next game — also outdoors — against the Titans. Overall this season, Stroud had a 108.3 passer rating indoors (10 games) and just an 85.1 rating outdoors (five games).

We could keep going, but those are enough good reasons to like the Ravens enough to lay the points. However, this is the NFL playoffs, and covering 9.5 points in a playoff game – even with all the aforementioned advantages – is a difficult task. The Ravens were just 1-3 against the spread this season when favored by 7 or more points. The one game they covered was in Week 1 against these Texans, who have improved by leaps and bounds throughout the season.

The Texans were one of the best stories of the season as the combination of first-year coach Demeco Ryans and rookie QB C.J. Stroud completely revitalized the franchise. They have exceeded expectations all season and they outperformed their projected win total (6.5) by 3.5 games, tied for the most in the league (with the Rams).

Is it really that crazy to expect the Texans to exceed expectations in what is likely their final game of this incredible season? It might be crazier not to, so we are leaning into the postseason parity and taking the Texans with the points.

Texans vs. Ravens Prediction & Best Bet: Ravens win 27-23 | Best Bet: Texans +9.5 (-110)

Texans vs. Ravens Betting Odds

The spread in this game is set at Ravens -9.5 at most major sportsbooks, but at the time of this writing it was -8.5 at BetMGM. It’s unlikely to reach the key number of -10 unless there is significant sharp action in favor of the Ravens.

The over/under is trending down after opening as high as 46 at FanDuel and DraftKings. It has dropped to 43.5 across the market.

The implied outcome given these odds is the Ravens winning 26-17.

Texans vs. Ravens Key Injuries

The Texans have several key starters on their injury report. The most important players who missed practice this week are LT Laremy Tunsil, RG Shaq Mason, DT Sheldon Rankins and DE Jerry Hughes. They also placed WR Noah Brown on IR this week.

For the Ravens, the key player to monitor is their top CB Marlon Humphrey, who injured his calf in Week 17 and missed the first two practices this week. OLB Jadeveon Clowney also unexpectedly missed Wednesday’s practice. It’s also worth noting that All-Pro TE Mark Andrews has been designated to return from IR and has a chance to play this week.

Texans vs. Ravens Key Matchups

Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Texans vs. Ravens below.

C.J. Stroud vs Ravens’ secondary

The biggest factor in this game is whether Stroud will be able to connect with his pass catchers for big plays like he has done all season.

Stroud was arguably the best deep-ball passer in the league this season. According to Pro Football Focus, he was 2nd in the league with 1,111 yards on deep passes (20+ air yards). He also had the best passer rating (140.5) and the 2nd-highest adjusted completion rate (58.3%) on deep passes. He added 3 more completions (on 4 attempts) for 102 yards and a touchdown on deep passes against an excellent Browns defense in the Texans’ Wild Card victory last week.

The Ravens had the best defense overall and the best passing defense in the league this season. They were 1st in defensive DVOA and passing defense DVOA, and they were 2nd in EPA allowed both overall and against the pass. Part of the reason for their strong pass defense is that they led the league with 60 sacks despite being just 25th in blitz rate. By generating so much pressure when rushing only their front four, they can consistently drop seven players into coverage.

We expect the Ravens to score plenty of points in this game, which means the Texans’ offense will need to find a way to create some explosive plays against this dominant Ravens’ defense. If they can’t do that, it will be much harder for them to stay competitive in this game and ultimately cover the spread.

Ravens’ ground attack vs. Texans’ run defense

This is the biggest matchup of strength against strength in this game.

Thanks largely to Lamar Jackson’s rushing prowess, the Ravens led the league in rushing offense (156.5 yards per game), rushing offense DVOA and EPA per rush, and they were 3rd in rushing success rate. The Texans allowed just 96.6 rushing yards per game (6th) and just 3.5 yards per carry (2nd), and they were 2nd in DVOA, 6th in EPA and 1st in success rate against the run.

The Texans are much more vulnerable against the pass. They finished 23rd in yards allowed, 26th in net yards allowed per attempt, 23rd in DVOA, 20th in EPA and 18th in success rate. Jackson had his best passing season of his career under offensive coordinator Todd Monken, and the Ravens should look to exploit the Texans primarily through the air.

If Houston also struggles to defend the run, then the Ravens will be able to do whatever they want offensively, and Houston will not be able to keep up.

Texans Depth Chart

QB: C.J. Stroud
RB1: Devin Singletary
RB2: Dameon Pierce
LWR: Nico Collins
RWR: Robert Woods
SWR: John Metchie III
TE1: Dalton Schultz

Ravens Depth Chart

QB: Lamar Jackson
RB1: Gus Edwards
RB2: Justice Hill
LWR: Odell Beckham Jr.
RWR: Rashod Bateman
SWR: Zay Flowers
TE1: Isaiah Likely

Best NFL Betting Promo Codes

Noah hails from Philadelphia and is a diehard Philly sports fan. He graduated from Penn where he was a sports writer and editor for the student newspaper and also spent a summer covering the Baltimore Orioles for MLB.com. He has been playing fantasy sports since before live stats were a thing, and he has enjoyed learning the nuances of DFS in recent years. As a current resident of Florida, he is hoping the wave of sports betting legalization will eventually reach his home state.

Hot NFL Stories