NFL Odds: Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens Pick 1/15/12

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The Houston Texans survived their first game in the playoffs, but now, they are going to face a significantly tougher task on the NFL playoff odds when they have to go to M&T Bank Stadium to tango with the Baltimore Ravens.

Year To Date Record: 59-63 ATS
Upset Record: 18-35, -$930

Divisional NFL Matchup: Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens
Date: Sunday, January 15th, 1:00 ET
Location: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
NFL Divisional Lines: Baltimore -9
Over/Under 38
Divisional NFL TV Schedule: CBS

Texans Notes: It wasn’t the prettiest win of all, but the Texans got the job done last week against the Bengals. They really had everything going in the victory, as the offense did its job and made some big plays, the defense came up with the play that changed the game, and the special teams really didn’t make a mistake. We were really impressed at the restraint shown by Houston after the game was over, as the team really celebrated a lot like it had been there already. There was no Gatorade bath for Head Coach Gary Kubiak either. It is clearly a sign that there is a lot more to do, and the Texans aren’t content with just saying that they finished this year with their first playoff berth and first playoff win in team history. Up next is its first win on the road in the playoffs in team history, and that is a significantly tougher challenge. QB TJ Yates didn’t make the big time mistake against Cincinnati last week, and he has to play a relatively perfect game to avoid getting wrecked by this Baltimore defense. He has to make some plays down the field, just as he did in what probably amounted to be the clinching TD pass to WR Andre Johnson. RB Arian Foster had over 150 yards on the ground, and he and RB Ben Tate combined for nearly 200 yards in total. The young defense didn’t allow a score in the final 27 minutes of the game, and after an opening TD drive, it didn’t allow the Bengals in the end zone. Rookie DE JJ Watt did score a TD just before halftime on an awesome INT return for a TD, and if he and the rest of his front seven mates can play like that on Sunday, Houston does have a shot.

Ravens Notes: Can you believe that of all of the playoff games that QB Joe Flacco has started and won, that this is the first time that he is going to be playing at home? This is a totally new experience for the Ravens, who really haven’t been expected to win in the AFC playoffs in quite some time, maybe even ever. This is going to be a game that supposedly comes against the worst team left in the playoffs (certainly in the AFC), and it is one that shouldn’t be close. Granted, the first time around this year, that was the case. QB Matt Schaub and the Houston offense were stymied all day long, and the defense had no answers for RB Ray Rice. Rice, who had 2,068 yards and a total of 15 TDs on the season, had a huge game with 161 total yards against Houston the first time around. He has the potential to be a beast again in this one, and if he is, look out! It could get ugly. WR Anquan Boldin should be back in the lineup after missing a few games with a knee injury, and the bye week really helped him out. The Ravens went 6-0 this year against playoff teams, and that is a number that we just can’t ignore.

The Final Word: The Ravens are legit. There is absolutely no doubt about that. It is going to take an absolutely perfect game for the Texans to win this one. With Schaub calling the shots and a healthy Johnson back in the fold, we could have seen Houston winning this game. We’ll take the Texans and the points, but in the end, we tend to think that the playoff experience for the Ravens will leave Houston at least one more year away from the Super Bowl.

Divisional NFL Pick: Houston +9

NFL Football Prediction: Baltimore 27 – Houston 20

Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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