Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#283 Baltimore Ravens -7 vs.
#284 Houston Texans 53.5
Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 4:25pm EDT
NRG Stadium, Houston
Written by Benjamin Hayes

The Houston Texans (0-1) are coming off an opening loss on Thursday night against the Super Bowl defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. Baltimore (1-0) blew out AFC North rival Cleveland at home.

Last season, the Ravens destroyed the Texans at home 41-7 on Nov. 17, 2019. Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson go head-to-head again, as Watson hopes for a better result in 2020.

The Texans fell in their opener at Kansas City, 34-20 last Thursday, while the Ravens destroyed Cleveland 38-6 on Sunday.

Lucky 13

The Baltimore Ravens have now won 13 straight regular-season games after downing the Browns on Sunday at home. That did not include a very disappointing 28-12 home loss to Tennessee on Jan. 12 of this year. Baltimore did lose to Cleveland last season at home, so there was some revenge to attain. Lamar Jackson, last year's NFL MVP, picked up where he left off, completing 20 of 25 for 275 yards and three touchdowns. He ran just seven times for 45 yards as the Browns did a nice job slowing down the running game. Baltimore smashed the NFL rushing record last season and in the opener, rushed for just 107 yards on 30 carries. Rookie running back J.K. Dobbins did rush for two short touchdowns. But take away Jackson's 45 yards (and Robert Griffin's -1 for the victory formation) and the Ravens' the other running backs averaged just 2.8 yards per carry.

Defensively, the Ravens were very good, but not dominant. They gave up 138 yards on the ground on 27 carries, but just 168 in the air. Rookie linebacker Patrick Queen had a solid first game with eight tackles and a sack. With Early Thomas gone right before the season started, safety DeShone Elliott stepped in with five tackles, while cornerback Jimmy Smith also played some safety. Baltimore also forced three turnovers so they won the turnover battle at +2.

There is one concern about the Ravens on offense and that's the health of Pro Bowl left tackle Ronnie Stanley. He missed about half the game last Sunday due to a sprained ankle and sat out of early practice on Wednesday. If Stanley misses the game, Baltimore will likely go with veteran guard D.J. Fluker at left tackle.

Texans looking to get back on track at home

Last year, Houston lost by 20 in the playoffs to Kansas City on the road and then opened with them last Thursday. So, revenge was not sweet for Deshaun Watson and company. In last week's loss to the Chiefs, the Texans had the ball just 25:13 compared to 34:47 and lost the turnover battle (-1). Defensively, they did a pretty good job against Patrick Mahomes (211 yards, 3 TDs), but they were gashed on the ground by rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire (138 yards, 1 TD). That's a major concern in this game as the Texans ranked 25th last season against the run, giving up 121.1 yards per game. They allowed 166 yards on the ground in the opener on 34 attempts. Last year, the Ravens ran for 256 yards and passed for 235 against Houston.

"We had trouble stopping the run, trouble getting off the field and then we sustain the second drive of the game for a touchdown, but then we couldn't sustain a couple of drives there and our defense couldn't get off the field," head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien said on HoustonTexans.com. "We got down and then the first drive of the second half was a big one because they took it down and scored and that dug a hole there. We did come back at the end there but it was too little, too late. There's a lot to build on but it's not, obviously, where you want to be."

Wastson completed 20 of 32 for 253 yards with one TD and one pick. His favorite target was Will Fuller V, who had eight catches (10 targets) for 112 yards. No other receiver was targeted more than five times. They obviously missed star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who caught 14 passes for 151 yards with Arizona, in their 24-20 victory over San Francisco last week.

Running back David Johnson ran for 77 yards on just 11 carries and caught three passes for 32 yards. He'll likely need more touches against the Ravens for the Texans to be successful.

Best Bets for this Game

All predictions are made well in advance of game time. Don't bet this pick before calling the free Winners And Whiners update line to make sure the pick is still good (recorded message): 1-213-205-3114

Full-Game Side Bet

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This could move up even more, so grab it early. But it shouldn't matter. The Ravens are on a roll in the regular season. They put up 38 points in the first game without running that well and with a defense that was out of sync early on. Houston doesn't appear to be a contender in the AFC and the Titans should be the team to beat in the AFC South. Despite having Watson, they don't have enough weapons at receiver to scare teams and David Johnson is probably their best weapon. Baltimore has one of the best group of corners in the league, so they will have to run the ball effectively to win. That's not going to happen and they won't able to stop Lamar Jackson in the passing game or on the ground.

Prediction: Baltimore -7

Full-Game Total Pick

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The total dropped three points since the opener. It's tough to see Houston putting up more than 10 points in this one, while the Ravens will try and control the clock when they get a big lead in the second half. Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills are not going to scare a lot of defenses this season. On the other side, the Ravens do have talent, but they don't have a great receiving corps either, once you get past "Hollywood" Brown and TE Mark Andrews. Take the under.

Prediction: Under 51.5
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Written By Benjamin Hayes

Ben has been a sports writer for over 30 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for over 25 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13!