Texans vs. Ravens Odds & Picks: Deshaun Watson or Lamar Jackson?
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson
- Our experts analyze every betting angle of the Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens, complete with odds and picks.
Texans at Ravens Odds & Picks
- Odds: Ravens -4
- Over/Under: 51.5
- Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: CBS
Week 11 is gifting us a battle between two young electric MVP candidates. But who has the edge?
Our experts break down every angle of Sunday’s showdown featuring Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, complete with picks.
Ravens-Texans Injury Report
Which team is healthier? Texans
The Texans are looking rather healthy coming off the bye. Will Fuller (hamstring) has resumed practicing in a limited fashion, which is a positive sign for his overall status, though I’d still consider him questionable for Sunday.
Marquise Brown continues to have ankle issues after he was downgraded on Thursday to a missed practice. That said, the Ravens have done this multiple times throughout the season with his practice participation. We’ll have a better idea of his status on Friday.
Also notable is defensive lineman Michael Pierce (ankle), who missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday. — Justin Bailey
Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.
Both Rush Offenses vs. Rush Defenses
Look, the Ravens offense is always going to be a major mismatch for opposing defenses the first time they see it. That said, the Texans will benefit from extra prep ahead of this AFC clash in Charm City. They’ve also been very good against the run and in covering tight ends — two musts against the Ravens.
Now, their secondary has been nothing short of a disaster, which Lamar Jackson can exploit. But the Ravens offense starts with the run and tight ends.
I do think the Texans will take a step back in their prowess against the run (and their pass rush) with the loss of J.J. Watt — who is worth more to the spread than any defender in the league for my money — but Houston should still be solid defending opponents’ ground games.
That said, I think the biggest mismatch here will come when the Texans are running the ball: The Ravens defense ranks inside the top 10 against the pass in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, but bottom five against the run.
I personally have the Ravens defense currently rated in the top three against the pass with the addition of Marcus Peters and the return of Jimmy Smith, giving them one of the best trio of corners in the league with safety Earl Thomas looming in the back. They also blitz as much as any team when their secondary is healthy, forcing quarterbacks to get the ball out quickly against tight man coverage (or disguised Cover 3).
That combination should give Baltimore one of the NFL’s most formidable pass defenses the rest of the way if they stay healthy in the defensive backfield.
However, as I alluded to, I do have serious concerns about their run defense — especially when neither Brandon Williams nor Michael Pierce are healthy, and it looks like Pierce may miss time after leaving last week’s game early.
I’ll give credit to the Ravens’ front office for recognizing the weakness then going out to sign Domata Peko and Justin Ellis as reinforcements along the defensive line. But how much does Peko have left in the tank, and how much can either give this Sunday with Pierce presumably sidelined? It’s clearly the biggest question mark in Baltimore.
The Ravens are well-coached and have an elite, unique offense with a great offensive line. They also have outstanding special teams and a smothering pass defense. But can they stop the run? That may be the key to season.
We’ll find out against Houston’s very solid rushing attack led by Carlos Hyde, who has been taking advantage of the space he gets from the Texans spreading out opposing defenses with the threat of Watson and the plethora of plus Houston receivers.
If they can move the ball on the ground, they can keep Jackson off the field and get Watson into the red zone, where he’s been electrifying this season, completing more than 68% of his passes with 14 touchdowns to just one pick.
I think this game will come down to which team can better establish the run. The question is, will it be the Ravens elite rushing attack against a very good Texans run defense, or a solid Texans run defense against a vulnerable Ravens rush defense? — Stuckey
Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds
- Projected Spread: Ravens -4.5
- Projected Total: 49.5
This spread appears spot on. I’m also in alignment with this over/under but based on early-week action, I wonder whether sharps expect this to be a slower-paced, lower-scoring game than people realize. — Sean Koerner
Chad Millman: Texans +4
My first instinct when I saw the opening line of Ravens -4.5? Uh-oh, bookmakers are gonna get taken. Wiseguys felt the same way, as they hit the 4.5 and dropped this down to 4. I bought it at the opening number, because I think it will dip a bit further before game time.
Every week it seems the public forgets that Watson has spent the past three years being insanely accurate, insanely comfortable throwing downfield and insanely good at winning or keeping games close. There is always someone overshadowing him. Last year it was Patrick Mahomes and Andrew Luck. This year it’s Lamar.
The truth is that the Ravens are just plain over-valued right now. Their win over the Patriots started it, but dominating the Bengals on the road as double-digit faves sealed it. There is never a better time to fade a team than when it’s got momentum and public support. And, of course, when it is playing Deshaun Watson.