The Houston Texans kicked off the playoffs with a blowout win against the Cleveland Browns, but a tougher test awaits in the Divisional round against the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens had a bye last week as the top seed in the AFC after compiling a 13-4 regular-season record to win the AFC North, and they now host the surprise AFC South champions.
|M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
|4:30 PM ET, Saturday, January 20
|How to watch
Ravens -9 (-110)
The Ravens have managed to avoid the issue that has sunk their hopes of winning the NFL Championship in past seasons by getting to the playoffs with a healthy Lamar Jackson at quarterback. As a result, they have a great shot at going all the way this season.
They won't be too upset by facing the Texans at this stage as the visitors were a 10-7 team who only snuck into the playoffs with a narrow win over the Colts in Week 18.
The Ravens have looked a formidable force at times this season and were strong down the stretch, winning six games in a row to seal the top seed in the AFC before resting their starters for their final game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
That run included a huge 33-19 road win over the NFC's top team, the San Francisco 49ers, which they followed with a 56-19 rout of the Miami Dolphins at home.
Jackson is in top form and expected to pick up the NFL MVP award. His offense may even be boosted for this game by the return of tight end Mark Andrews after injury, although Isaiah Likely has done extremely well while filling in for him.
The Texans did a fantastic coaching job to upset the Browns in spectacular fashion last week, bouncing back from their home loss to the same team on Christmas Eve, and their young stars are making rapid progress.
The shining light in their offense has been rookie quarterback CJ Stroud, but after winning his first playoff game at home, going on the road against the strong Ravens defense is a much higher level of difficulty. The Texans' receiving corps has been hit by injuries, with Nico Collins now the clear standout performer.
The Texans would likely need more than that to seriously trouble the Ravens and the rested home team should be able to pull clear and cover the spread.
Gus Edwards anytime touchdown scorer +110
The Ravens are not the most flashy of offenses but they certainly know how to get the job done and running back Gus Edwards is at the heart of their efforts to keep the chains moving.
Gus 'The Bus' has a nose for the end zone and has scored 13 rushing touchdowns this season, including finding paydirt in successive December games against the Jaguars, 49ers and Dolphins.
The Ravens' three touchdowns in their 25-9 regular season win over the Texans were all on the ground, with one from original starter JK Dobbins, who is now injured, and two by Justice Hill, but Edwards should be the top man this week and looks good to score a touchdown against the Texans.
Both of the touchdowns the Browns scored against the Texans last week came from running back Kareem Hunt, with one run and one pass, and the Ravens can also use their strongest rusher to good effect.
Nico Collins over 78.5 receiving yards (-110)
Taking the Texans' key offensive weapon to put up a decent number of receiving yards does not necessarily clash with the spread pick of the Ravens. If the home team can establish a comfortable lead - which seems likely - the visitors will be forced to air it out in a bid to catch up.
That could lead to errors that the Ravens defense can pounce on but Stroud is short of options in the passing game beyond his main man Collins and tight ends Dalton Schultz and Brevin Jordan, as Tank Dell and Noah Brown are both injured.
Collins was targeted seven times in the Browns game for 96 yards. He caught all nine of his targets against the Colts the previous week for 195 yards, and he had 80 yards from seven receptions against the Titans the week before that. He should have a strong individual day whatever the result of the game.
Texans defensive linemen Sheldon Rankins (ribs/shoulder) and Jerry Hughes (ankle) are nursing injuries and wide receivers Tank Dell (leg) and Noah Brown (shoulder) are out for the rest of the season.
Will Anderson Jr. (ankle) and Jonathan Greenard (ankle) returned against the Browns after suffering injuries. Defensive tackle Maliek Collins (hip), wide receivers John Metchie III (foot) and Robert Woods (hip), and linebackers Blake Cashman (knee) and Denzel Perryman (ribs) are also dealing with injuries but expected to play.
The Ravens are hopeful of having tight end Mark Andrews (ankle) back after a two-month absence and their biggest injury concern for this game is cornerback Marlon Humphrey (calf).
Wide receiver Zay Flowers (calf) and linebackers Malik Harrison (groin) and Odafe Oweh (ankle) have also been limited in practice.
The Ravens have won their last four games against the Texans by an average margin of 18.5 points, including a 25-9 win in Week 1 of the 2023 season.
Four of the Texans' last five postseason games as an underdog have gone over the total.
The Texans have a 0-4 record in the divisional round of the playoffs.
|Texans overall wins
|Ravens overall wins
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.