Houston Texans (11-6) at Baltimore (12-4): 1:00 ET on CBS
If this game had a soundtrack it would definitely be supplied by Rush because we will be seeing a heavy dose of the ground game from both teams this weekend.
It’s not that Houston and Baltimore are lacking in talented wideouts it’s just that Ray Rice and Arian Foster are that good and Joe Flacco and T.J. Yates are that “just ok”. Rice ran for a leagues second best 1364 yards during the regular season and Foster finished with 1224 yards despite starting the season injured and 153 yards in his first playoff game.
These two teams are actually very similar to each other. They run the ball well, have good defenses, they both have “game manager” quarterbacks who aren’t going to steal the game but also aren’t generally going to kill you either. Houston finished the season in an unimpressive fashion losing to Carolina, Indianapolis and Tennessee respectively but looked much better against Cincinnati in the Wild Card Playoff game. Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels have had health issues all season long and their performance will be key in this weeks game in order to balance the Texans running game. Overall Houston seems to be more banged up on both sides of the ball which may wind up being the deciding factor in Sundays big game.
The Ravens have put together another impressive regular season with the only head-scratching loss being to Jacksonville in week 7. The Ravens and Texans met once in the regular season this year, a battle that Baltimore won after 3 close quarters of competition.
The Ravens are no longer the Defensive beast they once were as many of their key defensive players have packed on the years but they were still top four in rush defense, pass defense, yards against and points against so they are certainly still formidable. The greatest difference probably comes in their turnover ratio (+2) which has sunk to its lowest point in Joe Flacco’s career with the team. If the Ravens can limit the Texans running game this team should be good enough to carry them on to a probable Conference Championship versus the Patriots.
Prediction: Baltimore 27, Houston 17