Baltimore Hosts Houston as Four-Point Favorites
Fresh off a 49-13 beatdown of the lowly Cincinnati Bengals, the Baltimore Ravens (7-2, 3-1 home) return home in Week 11 for a battle with the AFC South-leading Houston Texans (6-3, 3-2 road) at M&T Bank Stadium (1:00 PM ET).
Oddsmakers opened the point spread at Ravens -4.5, but now the Texans vs Ravens odds have shifted to Baltimore -4.0 according to SportsBettingDime.com.
Why Are Bettors Backing Houston?
The Houston Texans are a good team with an MVP-caliber quarterback in DeShaun Watson. They are also hot, winning two straight and four of five, and coming off a bye. In terms of narratives, there is no shortage of reasons to think that Houston will be a tough out on Sunday.
The Texans have also been road warriors when it comes to the spread. While they are only 3-2 straight-up outside of Houston, they are 4-1 ATS. The only road game they failed to cover was at Indianapolis in Week 7, where they fell 30-23 as 1.5-point underdogs.
How Do The Texans Actually Matchup With This Baltimore Team?
At first glance, the Texans seem to matchup well on paper. Their defense is ranked a middling 18th in DVOA, but is actually 6th-best in the league against the run. That’s where Baltimore shines.
Houston hasn’t given up more than 94 yards on the ground since Week 2. That said, they have only faced traditional running attacks in that span, and Baltimore’s ground game is anything but.
Lamar Jackson remains on pace to shatter Michael Vick’s single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback (1,039). He’s going to be facing a Houston front-seven that’s missing JJ Watt, which could seriously impact the Texans’ efforts to keep him in the pocket. Houston ranks just 20th in the league with 20 sacks on the year, and four of those belong to Watt.
If Bill O’Brien doesn’t devote extra resources to spying on Jackson, Baltimore’s own MVP contender will do what he’s done all season: take off for chunk gains. If the Texans do devote extra resources, Jackson’s improved passing should be able to capitalize on a vulnerable Houston secondary that’s ranked 25th in coverage by Pro Football Focus.
Can Baltimore’s Defense Stop DeShaun Watson?
On the other side of the ball, however, Baltimore’s defense will have an equally hard time containing Watson and the Houston offense. Shockingly (based on recent history), the Texans actually have an excellent ground game this year, averaging 5.0 yards per carry (5th-best in the NFL). Carlos Hyde (704 yards, 4.7 YPC) is the bell-cow, but Duke Johnson (287 yards, 5.3 YPC) is a lethal third-down option, while Watson (279 yards, 5.4 YPC) is a threat to take off, himself.
While the Ravens’ defense is 14th overall in DVOA, its 8th against the run and a pedestrian 20th against the pass. The front-seven suffered huge losses in the offseason and has felt the effects all year. In the team’s two losses, the rush defense was gashed for 140 yards (by KC) and 193 yards (by Cleveland).
Is Four Points Too Many To Lay?
All told, this looks like it will be a competitive, thoroughly entertaining matchup between two of the best QBs in the 2019 season. Laying four points is a big ask. It will require a vulnerable Baltimore defense to slow one of the most electric attacks in the league.
The better, and potentially more entertaining, option may be betting on the OVER. Oddsmakers set it at 49.5, as they likely realize both defenses are vulnerable to their opponent’s strengths.
Houston is averaging 32 PPG over its last five games. Baltimore is averaging 33. Unless they both slow down, this game should hit 50 total points.