Free NFL Pick: Baltimore at Houston 12-13-2010

December 13, 2010

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Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans

Monday December 13th, 2010 8:30 PM EST

Line: Baltimore -3

Overview:

The Houston Texans have lost five of their last six games, dropping them to a 5-7 record. The Texans have had high expectations coming into the last few seasons, but have fallen short of those expectations regularly. Unfortunately for the Texans, they have to take on the Baltimore Ravens this week.

The Ravens may have fallen short last week when they took on the Steelers, but it would be foolish to sleep on the 8-4 Ravens. That being said, the Ravens are 3-3 on the road this season and have shown their vulnerabilities away from their home crowd.

Keys to the Game:

  • The Texans rank dead last in pass defense. It is probably safe to say that Joe Flacco will approach 300 yards passing in this game. While the Ravens generally may not make people think of a pass happy team, Baltimore can air it out when they need to. The Texans have a terrible secondary and Flacco will likely come out throwing early. The Ravens are more effective in their short controlled passing game, but it should still be highly effective against the Texans.
  • Even if Arian Foster didn’t play on Monday Night, his 1230 yards would still be good enough to make him the second leading rusher in the NFL. Foster is going up against the Ravens defense, but he should still have a solid day. He continuously performs even when going up against the NFL’s best run defenses, like the Chargers and Jets. It would be surprising to see him have a monster day against Ray Lewis and the Ravens, but 75 to 100 yards is obtainable.
  • The Texans are going to have their hands full up front. Haloti Ngata and Terrelle Suggs are two players who dominate the trenches. While they have different strengths, both make a habit of making their presence felt in the backfield. The Texans will need to pay special attention to both players, and leaving Foster in the backfield to help with protection is in the best interest of the Texans.
  • Matt Schaub is one of the most effective passers in the NFL. He has hit the 70% completion mark four times this year. While the Texans don’t need him to throw 497 yards on a week to week basis, Schaub is capable of doing so, as he showed earlier in the season against the Redskins. The Texans have a complete offense, so Schaub won’t need to take on the Ravens’ defense alone.
  • Anquan Boldin had 118 yards against the Steelers defense. The Texans are the worst team in the league in coverage and their tackling amongst their secondary is lackluster. Boldin makes a living off yards after the catch. The Texans aren’t going to be able to cover or tackle Boldin, so he could have a big day even if his catches are limited to four or five.

Key Matchup:

Ed Reed Vs. Andre Johnson

  • While Ed Reed won’t be in man coverage, the Ravens will surely have him help secure Johnson over the top. He has four picks in only six games. He defended five passes against the Bucs and covers so much ground, it is difficult to not throw the ball in his vicinity. He is one of the smartest players in the NFL, so Matt Schaub needs to be careful when things seem too easy.
  • Andre Johnson is regarded as one of the best receivers in the NFL. With six catches for 149 yards last week against Philadelphia, the Ravens will surely make sure two players have Johnson in their sights at all times. He surpassed the 1,000 yard mark yet again and continues to dominate cornerbacks and safeties alike. It will be interesting to see how Reed’s play making ability matches up against Johnson’s size and raw power.

Wrap Up:

The Texans are ice cold. They may have beaten the Titans, who had Rusty Smith under center for that game, but they have been a doormat for teams. The Ravens might not be Super Bowl favorites, but they certainly are a solid team. This one isn’t going to even be close. While I was most sure Atlanta would cover against the Panthers, I’m very confident in selecting the Ravens.

Free NFL Pick: Baltimore -3


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