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Playoff dreams could be realized and could be smashed on Monday Night Football this week, and here at Cappers Info, we have all of the best news and notes to be able to make your NFL picks in the duel between the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans this week.
Matchup: Baltimore Ravens @ Houston Texans
Date: Monday, December 13th, 8:30 ET
Location: Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX
Game Line: Houston +3
Ravens Notes: This just seems like it is destined to be another one of those years where the Ravens have to come through a very tough path on the road if they want to make it to the Super Bowl, and as a result, it will probably be yet another year in which they fall just short of the biggest game of the season. Baltimore really should have had the AFC North on lockdown last week, but it let the Pittsburgh Steelers back into the game and eventually let them win it at the death. Now, instead of having a one game lead with the tiebreaker with four to play, the Ravens are one back and are probably in a position to lose the tiebreaker with four to play. The good news is that a win in this one leaves them two games up on safety for the last Wild Card spot in the AFC, thus they'll be in great shape to make the second season. However, a loss could open up Pandora's Box for all sorts of teams to feel like they have a chance at swiping that last bid to the playoffs, including these Texans. QB Joe Flacco is just a few passes away from being a 3,000 yard passer this year, and he should be in for a field day against a very suspect Houston secondary. WR Anquan Boldin already has 770 yards and seven TDs as a receiver this year, and he will be the prime focus for the offensive assault on Monday night. RB Ray Rice is a real dual threat, as he is the top rusher for the team with 847 yards and three TDs, and he is second on the team in receptions with 49 and fourth in yards at 410. Watch for WR Derrick Mason, who has 47 receptions and 598 yards this year, as this could be the biggest game of his season. No analysis of the Ravens would be complete without talking about LB Ray Lewis, SS Ed Reed, and this defense, though. This unit has played awesome ball for the majority of the year, as the unit is allowing just 305.8 yards and 16.8 points per game.
Texans Notes: Last season, the Texans were in this very familiar spot at this juncture of the season, and they probably needed a lot more help than this to get into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Houston did its job last year, running the table to finish 9-7, but it still was the first team left out of the playoffs, as the New York Jets stole that last spot on the last day of the season. Things seem to be gloomy, especially knowing that this is a very, very tough schedule down the stretch, but it's not all that bad for the Texans. They need to win out and get one more loss out of the winner of the Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts battle next week, and that will most likely get the job done and win the division for the first time ever. However, on the darker side of things, a loss will make it virtually impossible to win the AFC South, as catching the Colts and Jags from two back, and perhaps three back, with just three to play is going to be a task too tough to tame. If Head Coach Gary Kubiak does end up getting fired at the end of this season, he can look back at his secondary and wonder why this unit was just so downright horrible this year. There really hasn't been enough consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, as only really DE Mario Williams has any substantial numbers this year, and that has let QBs just sit in the pocket and pick the Texans apart. This unit ranks dead last in the league at 287.4 yards per game, and this is why this team has allowed at least 24 points to all but one foe this year. Offensively, we know that QB Matt Schaub, WR Andre Johnson, and RB Arian Foster are all potential Pro Bowlers this year, as all three are amongst the best at their trade in the game. Foster is arguably the most valuable player on this team, as he has 1,230 yards on the ground and 479 more as a receiver, and he has 15 total TDs on the season.
The Final Word: Houston is in a bad spot in this one, as the Ravens really can do anything that these please against this unit. The spirit of the fans at Reliant Stadium will be broken early, and when that happens and the crowd turns against Kubiak and company, things could get really, really ugly. Don't be shocked if this one turns into a romp and if Kubiak gets a pink slip shortly after the game for it.
Free Pro Football Picks: Baltimore -3
Prediction: Baltimore 31 – Houston 10