Texans trounce Browns, get Week 1 rematch at Baltimore

Texans trounce Browns, get Week 1 rematch at Baltimore

Updated on Thursday, 1/18/24, at 8:15 a.m. Eastern. 

We’re down to the NFL’s version of the Elite Eight with a pair of doubleheaders on deck for Saturday and Sunday. Let’s take a look at Saturday’s curtain jerker at M&T Bank Stadium.

As of Thursday morning, Baltimore (13-4 straight up, 11-6 against the spread) was listed as a 9.5-point home favorite vs. Houston in an AFC showdown at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. The total was 43.5 points, while the Texans were +330 (DraftKings) to +380 (Circa) on the money line.

These teams collided at this same venue in Week 1 when Houston’s rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud was making his NFL debut. The Ravens led 7-6 at halftime before outscoring the Texans 15-0 in the third quarter.

They held on to win a 25-9 decision to take the cash as 9.5-point home ‘chalk.’ The 34 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 43.5-point total.

Lamar Jackson completed 17-of-22 passes for 169 yards, but he had zero touchdown passes and one interception. He had a team-best 38 rushing yards on six attempts, while Justice Hill had a pair of rushing TDs. Rookie WR Zay Flowers had nine receptions for 78 yards, and LB Roquan Smith had 16 tackles and one sack.

Stroud connected on 28-of-44 throws for 242 passing yards. WR Nico Collins had six catches for 80 yards. The game was closer than the final score indicated, with both teams producing 18 first downs apiece. The Texans had a 268-265 advantage in total yards.

Houston (11-7 SU, 10-8 ATS) trounced Cleveland 45-14 this past Saturday in the Wild Card Round as a two-point home underdog. The Texans improved to 7-3 ATS with six outright wins in 10 games as underdogs.

Houston took a 24-14 lead into halftime. That remained the score when the Browns moved into Texans’ territory midway through the third quarter.

However, with 6:05 left in the third, Houston’s Steven Nelson intercepted Joe Flacco and returned the pick 82 yards for a TD. That gave the Texans a 31-14 lead and gave ‘over’ backers (hand raised!) a stress-free winner, as the 45 combined points went ‘over’ the 44.5-point total.

Flacco threw another pick-six, a 36-yarder to Christian Harris, on the Browns’ next drive. Houston RB Devin Singletary added a 19-yard TD run with 13:27 remaining to put the game completely out of reach.

Stroud completed 16-of-21 passes for 274 yards and three TDs without an interception, while Collins hauled in six receptions for 96 yards and one TD. Brevin Jordan had a 76-yard TD catch that put Houston ahead for good at 17-14 with 12:00 left in the second quarter.

Singletary had 66 rushing yards and one TD on 13 attempts, while WR John Metchie had three catches for 44 yards and nine rushing yards on one attempt.

Harris had eight tackles, one sack and an interception, while rookie EDGE Will Anderson had three tackles and one sack.

Baltimore is 6-3 SU and 5-4 ATS at home, while Houston is 4-4 SU and 5-3 ATS on the road. The Ravens are 10-2 SU and 8-4 ATS in their last 12 games, with seven wins by double-digit margins in that stretch.

There should be an asterisk by each of those Baltimore losses, however, in the last 12 games. In a 17-10 home loss to Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale, the Ravens rested many of their key starters like Jackson, Flowers, Odell Beckham Jr., Smith and others.

The other loss came at home vs. Cleveland on Nov. 12. The Ravens led by 15 points once and had three separate 14-point leads over the Browns, including a 31-17 advantage with nine minutes remaining, but Cleveland scored the game’s final 16 points to win a 33-31 decision.

Houston has won three games in a row and eight of its last 11, going 6-5 ATS during that stretch. The Texans have undoubtedly benefitted from a soft schedule, producing a 3-2 SU record and a 2-3 ATS mark in their five games against teams that made the postseason.

Baltimore went 6-3 SU and 5-4 ATS in nine games against opponents that made the playoffs this year.

The ‘over’ is on a 7-4 run for the Ravens, but they’ve seen the ‘under’ go 9-8 overall. The ‘over’ is 5-4 in Baltimore’s nine home games, but the ‘over’ had cashed in four straight home games for the Ravens prior to Jackson and other offensive weapons resting in the regular-season finale.

The ‘under’ has cashed at a 6-3 clip for Houston in its last nine contests to improve to 11-6 overall. The ‘under’ is 5-3 for the Texans in their eight road assignments.

As of Thursday morning, the forecast for Baltimore on Saturday was calling for temperatures in the 20s with 10-15 mile-per-hour winds. There was only a five percent chance of rain or snow, though.

Baltimore TE Mark Andrews has been out injured since mid-November, but he practiced Tuesday on a limited basis. In 10 games this year, Andrews had 45 receptions for 544 yards and six TDs.

Then on Wednesday, Andrews was a full participant at practice, sparking optimism galore that he’ll be in uniform Saturday barring any setback between now and then.

PREDICTION: Baltimore Team Total ‘over’ 26.5 points. 

Before its 17-10 home loss to Pittsburgh in its regular-season finale without Jackson and its top offensive weapons, Baltimore had produced the following scoring outputs in its six previous home contests: 56, 37, 34, 31, 37 and 38 points.

The Ravens are ranked #1 in the NFL in rushing yards, #6 in total offense and #4 in scoring with their 28.4 points-per-game average.