houston texans at baltimore ravens football pick 1-15-12

January 15, 2012

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Houston at Baltimore When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 15, 2012 Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland

THE STORY: The Houston Texans finally found the formula to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, combining a dominating running game with a stalwart defense. Some would say they simply borrowed from the playbook used by the Baltimore Ravens for the past decade. In many ways, the Texans will have to beat the Ravens at their own game when they visit Baltimore for an AFC divisional round matchup on Sunday afternoon. Houston already had one crack at the Ravens earlier this season, dropping a 29-14 decision at Baltimore on Oct. 16. Of course, that was a typical outcome this season for the Ravens, who posted the first perfect 8-0 record at home in team history. Baltimore has won all five meetings with Houston as it seeks its first home playoff win since the 2000 Super Bowl-winning season.

TV: CBS, 1 p.m. ET. LINE: Ravens -7.5, O/U 36

ABOUT THE TEXANS (11-6): Houston won its first playoff game in franchise history last week, getting 153 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Arian Foster in a 31-10 victory over Cincinnati. Star WR Andre Johnson, who missed the first meeting versus the Ravens and sat out nine games this season, had five receptions for 90 yards, including a 40-yard scoring pass. Rookie T.J. Yates, who was the third-string QB in October, completed 11 of 20 for 159 yards and one TD. Houston had four sacks and an interception return for a touchdown by DE J.J. Watt vs. Cincinnati. Foster was limited to 49 yards on 15 carries by the Ravens in Week 6, but he had 100 yards against them last season.

ABOUT THE RAVENS (10-3): Joe Flacco is often criticized for holding back Baltimore’s offense, but he’s the only QB in the Super Bowl era to start a playoff game in each of his first four seasons. Flacco is 27-5 at home and will get a boost with the return of WR Anquan Boldin, who missed the last two games with a knee injury. Boldin had eight receptions for 132 yards in the last meeting against the Texans. Still, the offense revolves around RB Ray Rice, who rushed for 1,364 yards and 12 TDs and led the league with 2,068 yards from scrimmage. He rushed for 101 yards and added 60 more receiving against Houston. Baltimore led the AFC with 48 sacks.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. The Ravens and Texans were the only teams to rank among the top five in total defense, rushing defense and passing defense.

2. Houston was the first team to win its franchise playoff debut since Baltimore in 2000.

3. The Ravens have won their playoff opener in each of the last three seasons. Each game was on the road.


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