Ravens vs. Texans Odds & Pick: Back Deshaun Watson To Cover This Week 2 Spread (Sept. 20)
Rob Carr/Getty Images. Pictured: Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson
- The Houston Texans will look to notch their first win against one of the best teams in the NFL on Sunday: the Baltimore Ravens.
- With a stellar quarterback matchup, Chris Raybon thinks Deshaun Watson has enough to keep the game close.
- Check out Raybon's full preview with updated odds below.
Ravens vs. Texans Odds
The Ravens spanked the Texans, 41-7, last November in Baltimore. Can the Texans keep it close this time on their home turf?
You know what you’re going to get out of the Ravens: A steady diet of the run with Lamar Jackson and a deep backfield that now features second-round pick J.K. Dobbins along with Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards.
Despite shellacking the Browns, 38-6, in Week 1 and Dobbins scoring twice on the ground in his debut, the Ravens weren’t their usual, dominant selves in the run game: Baltimore picked up just 111 yards on 30 carries for an average of 3.7 yards per carry.
The Ravens lit up the Texans for 41 points in Week 11 last season, but that was with Romeo Crennel still calling the plays. New defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver’s scheme is a bit more varied and multiple and will attempt to confuse opponents by sending rushers from unpredictable places while forcing the Ravens to drive the length of the field. The 34-20 outcome in favor of the Chiefs in Week 1 masked that Weaver was largely successful at executing this strategy against Patrick Mahomes, who managed just 211 passing yards on 32 attempts for an average of 6.6 yards per attempt — nearly two full yards below his career average of 8.5.
Baltimore isn’t nearly as strong as the Chiefs at wide receiver, which will allow Weaver to dedicate more resources to stopping the run, a luxury he wasn’t afforded in Week 1 that ultimately proved to be Houston’s undoing, as it was shredded for 138 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries by rookie first-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Deshaun Watson’s biggest issue in Week 1 was pressure:
Most telling stat of the night for #Texans:
Deshaun Watson on 14 pressured dropbacks:
4 sacks, 3 scrambles
1-of-7 passing for 6 yards
— Chris Raybon (@ChrisRaybon) September 11, 2020
Watson should expect to be under duress again: The Ravens were the NFL’s most blitz-happy team last season, and when these two teams met in Week 11, Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale sent extra rushers at Watson on 20 of his 37 dropbacks (54.1%) while getting pressure 40.5% of the time.
Watson is, however, better equipped to handle the pressure this time around than he was last season against Baltimore and against Kansas City in Week 1. In last year’s matchup with the Ravens, Watson was without the services of deep threat Will Fuller, and it showed: Watson attempted only three passes of 20 yards or more downfield, completing none. And last week, Brandin Cooks was in on only 46.3% of Watson’s dropbacks. Cooks’ snap count should rise as he’s eased back in from an offseason quad injury.
Baltimore has a strong group of corners led by Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, and teams not going to beat them by allowing them to sit on underneath routes.
The Ravens also had the services of safety Earl Thomas III — who was released this offseason — in last year’s matchup. Thomas III played 38 snaps in coverage in that game and didn’t even allow a target. Replacing Thomas in the lineup is unproven 2018 sixth-round pick DeShon Elliott, who has played just 68 coverage snaps in his entire career.
On the ground, David Johnson got off to a promising start in Week 1, popping off for 77 yards on 11 carries (7.0 yards per carry), With Duke Johnson (ankle, questionable) banged up, Johnson will likely have to carry the load but should have opportunities against a Ravens run defense that sprung leaks against Cleveland’s backfield, allowing its backs to rattle off 137 yards on 24 carries (5.7 yards per carry).
Baltimore is obviously the superior team, but Houston has what it takes to keep this game closer than the line indicates. Weaver’s defense proved in Week 1 it could limit big plays from an explosive passing game and will force Baltimore to drive the length of the field.
On offense, Watson has the weapons necessary to make Baltimore pay for blitzing, something that wasn’t the case in last season’s matchup.
Per The Athletic’s Aaron Reiss, Watson has been the league’s second-most high-variance quarterback since being drafted in 2017, so we shouldn’t overreact to last week’s slow start. In fact, the best time to bet on Watson to deliver has been when expectations are low: According to our Bet Labs data, he has pulled off a 12-6 record against the spread as an underdog in his career. Jackson, meanwhile, can be hit or miss as a favorite. compiling an ATS record of 9-10 (including postseason).
I have this game power rated as Texans +6 and would bet Houston at +7.5 or better.
I make this total 50, so I showed value on the under at 52.5 before sharps bet it down to 50. That Houston can force Baltimore to drive the length of the field is a good case for the under, but Houston has enough ability to make Baltimore pay in one-on-one coverage on the blitz that I think it’s too risky to tail the sharps at the reduced number.
PICK: Texans +7.5