NFL Betting Preview & Free Vegas Pick: Ravens vs Texans

One of the highlights of the NFL Week 11 schedule is an AFC showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans. Kickoff is at 1:00 EST on Sunday, November 17 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. A majority of the country will be able to watch the game on CBS.

If we check the Week 11 NFL betting odds, the Ravens are 4-point favorites at home. The game also has an over/under of 52 points.

Ravens vs Texans Vegas Preview & Game Predictions

The Ravens might be the hottest team in the NFL right now. Baltimore heads into Week 11 with a five-game winning streak. During that time, they’ve won in Seattle, handed the Patriots their first loss of the season, and clobbered the Bengals on the road. Those five wins combined with some lackluster play by the rest of the AFC North have given the Ravens a 3-game cushion at the top of the division and a chance to possibly earn the top seed in the AFC playoffs.

Of course, there’s a lot of season left to play and Baltimore’s remaining schedule is no cakewalk. Over the next month, the Ravens are set to play the Texans, Rams, 49ers, and Bills in consecutive weeks. It’s hard to envision any team escaping that stretch of games without a loss or two, so the longer the Ravens can keep up their winning streak, the better.

If the Ravens are the hottest team in the NFL, the Texans aren’t far behind. Houston has won four of their last five games, including a road win over the chiefs and a 26-3 London win over the Jaguars prior to last week’s bye. Despite that stretch, the 6-3 Texans only have a one-game lead atop the AFC South over the Colts and are just two games ahead of the last-place Jaguars.

Every week, there’s pressure on Houston to win in order to keep their spot at the top of the division. Much like the Ravens, Houston’s schedule doesn’t get much easier. After this week’s trip to Baltimore, the Texans have back-to-back home games with the Colts and Patriots, so maintaining the momentum they’ve built from their recent wins won’t be easy.

Free NFL Pick Against the Spread: Texans +4

The Ravens have been awfully impressive during their five-game winning streak, especially Lamar Jackson, who remains near the top of the list of MVP candidates. But this game is too close to call for me. The Texans have the kind of team that might be able to create problems for Baltimore. With the spread greater than a field goal, I’ll take a chance on this game coming down to the wire and Houston at least being able to beat the spread.

It’s no secret that the Ravens are at their best when they’re running the ball. Jackson, of course, is a menace with his legs for opposing defenses. But Mark Ingram is also averaging five yards per carry this season, so the Ravens can also run between the tackles. However, the Houston defense is the third-best in the NFL at defending the run, so they have a fighting chance to slow down the Baltimore running game. 

Over the past month, the likes of Marlon Mack, Josh Jacobs, and Leonard Fournette have all been held in check when facing the Houston defense. Obviously, that bodes well for them being able to stop Ingram. However, there’s no equivalent at the quarterback position for Jackson, so it is up in the air whether the Texans can avoid getting hurt by Jackson on the ground.

On the off chance they can contain the run and put Baltimore in passing situations, the Texans will have a fighting chance in this game. In the games the Ravens have lost this year or struggled to pull away, they’ve asked Jackson to throw the ball 30-plus times. While Jackson has been improved as a passer this year, he can struggle when he’s in must-pass situations and forced to push the ball down the field.

Even if the Houston defense can’t contain Jackson and the Baltimore offense, it doesn’t preclude the Texans from keeping up in a shootout. Houston is averaging 32 points per game over their last five games and has scored no fewer than 23 points during that stretch. Like the Ravens, the Texans have a strong rushing attack they can count on leading the way with Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson combining for 110 rushing yards per game. They are also hoping that Will Fuller can finally return from injury this week to give their passing game a boost.

Keep in mind that this is not the Baltimore defense of past years. The Ravens have held their own season and have been outstanding at creating takeaways and scoring on defense in recent weeks. In fact, they have a defensive score in three straight games. But if they can’t create takeaways, the Ravens could have a difficult time containing Deshaun Watson and all of the dangerous skill players on the Houston offense.

Admittedly, I think the Ravens will win this game because they look close to unstoppable right now. But the Texans have an offense that can keep up in a shootout and a defense that could at least slow down down Baltimore’s rushing attack. Houston has also had an extra week to prepare. All of those factors are enough to take a chance on the Texans keeping this game close enough to beat the spread.

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