Bet Ravens -5 vs. Texans: Free NFL Picks

Nikki Adams

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 1:40 PM GMT

Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014 1:40 PM GMT

Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans collide in week 16 NFL betting, a game firmly cornered in the Ravens' camp for good reason. Here's our primer on this crucial AFC showdown complete with NFL picks.

Baltimore Ravens (9-5 SU, 4-3 away)
With the Texans down to a fourth-string quarterback, the game is really for the Ravens to win or lose. Predictably, the odds makers have cornered this game in the Ravens camp on -235 NFL odds in straight up betting and as the 5.0-point favourites on the road against the spread.

The Ravens are riding a two-game winning streak ahead of week 16 NFL betting, a crucial run of form that keeps them in the thick of the AFC North title race and the playoff picture. As things currently stand, the Ravens are 9-5 SU, tied with Pittsburgh Steelers in second place. Bengals, meanwhile, lead the tightly packed AFC North division with a 9-4-1 SU record.

Ravens lost a crucial home game three weeks ago when they let a significant lead over the Chargers slip through their fingers en route to a narrow 34-33 loss. Credit to them they bounced back with a win over the Dolphins on the road and a win over the Jaguars at home.

Last week's clash against the Jaguars wasn't as straightforward as the NFL betting markets suggested as the Ravens failed to cover the hefty 14-point spread (or thereabouts depending on your cyber shop of choice) in a 20-13 win. It was a nervy performance altogether by the Ravens, despite accounting for 314 yards of total offense (221 passing and 91 rushing). Too many mistakes were made top to bottom, costly penalties incurred and special team blunders, not to mention Justin Tucker missing two field goal attempts, that nearly had them undone at home. Nevertheless, they got the W, which is all that really matters in the broad spectrum of their bid for a playoff spot.

The Ravens are surging behind the solid leadership of Joe Flacco, who is completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 23 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. Over the course of their two-game winning streak, Flacco has thrown four touchdown passes and just one pick. Against the Jaguars Flacco went 20-of-30 for 221 yards and a touchdown.

 

Houston Texans (7-7 SU, 3-3 home)
Houston Texans have played valiantly in recent weeks to improve to 7-7 SU, but the recent loss of Ryan Fitzpatrick could be the proverbial string that breaks the camel's back. It's hard to see how the Texans move forward from this latest injury setback.

The quarterback carousel exhausted Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallet and Tom Savage all on the injury list the Texans are forced to turn to the services of Case Keenum or Thaddeus Lewis. An unenviable position at this late stage of the season. The decision is yet to be made this week, although it's hardly going to make much of a difference which one coach O'Brien chooses to tackle the daunting prospect of the Baltimore Ravens, surely.

Of course, the Texans have J.J. Watt, one of the dark horses for the MVP honours this season. But there's so much the defensive end can do along with his mates on defense in a quarterback centric game.  

 

NFL Betting Verdict:
It's unfortunate that the Texans have had the rug pulled from under them in such a cruel way this season. That Fitzpatrick doesn't get to finish the season on his terms, along with the rest of the team. That J.J. Watt's MVP bid is most likely to suffer as a result the players that have won the prestigious honour have predominantly come from playoff contending teams.

All season long, we've been high on the Texans. However, the position Keenum or Lewis (whichever gets the start) is in is overwhelming, make no mistake. Both are relatively cold ahead of this game and have to get familiar with playing schemes fast. The odds that they would rise to the occasion are slim to none, figuratively and literally. Thus, everything about this game suggests the Ravens are the smart NFL pick to both win SU and cover.

Free NFL Picks: Ravens -235 and -5.0 at The Greek

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