AFC divisional game: Ravens vs. Texans preview, where to watch, prediction - BaltimoreSports.com
Ravens

AFC divisional game: Ravens vs. Texans preview, where to watch, prediction

AFC Divisional Playoff Game
No. 4 Texans at No. 1 Ravens

When

Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Where

M&T Bank Stadium (70,705)

Spread

Ravens are favored by 9 points (MGM)

How to Watch/Listen

Television: ABC/ESPN Monday Night Football / WMAR Channel 2 (Baltimore)

National Radio: Westwood One Sports

Spanish Radio: La Mera Mera 1050 AM & WTTZ 93.5 FM (Tico Sports)

Stream: Fubo TV

Series History

Baltimore leads the regular-season series, 10-2. The Ravens also defeated the Texans, 20-13, on January 15th. 2012, in the wild-card round of the playoffs.

Notable

Under coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens (11) are one of four teams with New England (12), Green Bay (12), and  Kansas City (11) to earn a playoff berth in at least 11 of the past 16 seasons. Baltimore is also one of four teams to make the playoffs in at least five of the past six seasons (2018-23).

2023-24 Rankings

Ravens: Total Offense: 6; Total Defense: 6

Texans: Total Offense: 12; Total Defense: 14

Ravens Game Plan

Offense

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is the main cog of the Ravens’ offense. Jackson threw for a career-high 3,678 yards with 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions, finishing with the NFL’s fourth-best rating (102.7). He added 821 yards rushing with five scores, becoming the only quarterback in NFL history with multiple seasons to reach the 3,000/800 milestone.

In the first game against Houston, Jackson completed 17 of 22 passes for 169 yards with an interception in a 25-9 victory. He was also sacked four times, so the Ravens will need to have better protection from an aggressive Texans defense led by defensive end Jonathan Greenard (12.5 sacks). Houston linebacker Blake Cashman is also a game-wrecker. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Week in a 20-13 victory over New Orleans when he finished with career highs in tackles (15), passes defensed (two), and tackles for loss (two), while also registering one quarterback hit.

The Texans’ secondary is also solid. Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month in December, becoming just the sixth player in franchise history to earn the honor. From Weeks 13-18, Stingley Jr. led the NFL with three interceptions while earning the best defensive and coverage grade among qualifying AFC cornerbacks from Pro Football Focus. He also led the NFL with nine passes defensed during the same time frame while allowing an impressive 1.7 passer rating when targeted by opposing teams.

The Ravens will get a boost if wide receiver Zay Flowers (calf) and tight end Mark Andrews (ankle) can play. The Texans returned two interceptions for touchdowns off Browns quarterback Joe Flacco in the wild-card round of the playoffs. The Ravens cannot make those types of mistakes.

On the ground, the Texans rank sixth in the NFL, allowing 96.6 yards rushing per game. The Ravens ran for 110 yards on 32 carries in their first meeting on September 10th. Gus Edwards will get the start for Baltimore with Justice Hill also expected to get carries. The Ravens also could activate Dalvin Cook, who was signed last week after being released by the Jets.

Defense

Houston quarterback CJ. Stroud has improved throughout the season. In the 45-14 victory over the Browns in the wild-card round, Stroud threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns and became the youngest quarterback to win a playoff game. With 281 passing yards on Saturday against the Ravens,  Stroud (4,382) would break the NFL rookie record for most passing yards, including the postseason in NFL history. Stroud would pass Andrew Luck, who had 4,662 in 2012.

The Ravens need to put pressure on Stroud, who wasn’t pressured by the Browns. The Ravens sacked him five times in the first meeting, which set the tone for the game. The Ravens limited the Texans to 7-for-18 (38.9 percent) on third down and 1-for-4 (25 percent) on fourth down while holding them without a touchdown on two red-zone drives. If the Ravens can repeat that type of performance, they could coast to another victory.

Houston could rely heavily on the ground game behind running back Devin Singletary (898 yards rushing). The Ravens have been vulnerable to big runs over the past several weeks and limiting those yards has been a priority of defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. The Ravens want to make Stroud try to beat them through the air.

Prediction

The Ravens were knocked out of the playoffs the last time they were the No. seed in 2019. There is a much different vibe around this year’s team. Jackson has gone 1-3 in the postseason and he’s determined to make a statement this time around. Jackson is 17-1 — regular season and playoffs — when favored by 9 or more points. The Texans were impressive in their victory over the Browns — dominating on both sides of the ball — but they will find a more daunting challenge on the road against Baltimore.

Ravens 30, Texans 16

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