The NFL Divisional Round Weekend games get started today with an intriguing matchup. Rookie sensation C.J. Stroud leads the Houston Texans into the lion’s den as they visit Lamar Jackson and his #1 seeded Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are favorites to emerge from the AFC and grab a berth in the Super Bowl. We’ll see if Stroud and company can do anything to alter those plans today. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 pm EST.
The Texans are massive underdogs in this game. The Ravens are deservedly big favorites. The Ravens have arguably been the best team in the NFL this season. They finished the year with the best record in the NFL. They have a fierce defense and a top offense, the kind of team balance that usually portends great things in the post-season. Nobody will be surprised if the Ravens win today and keep on winning.
Still, there are a few things that might tip the balance today. The Ravens’ ferocious defense has shown a few cracks recently, allowing 375+ yards in three of their last five games. The Ravens’ offense relies on the running game. They run the ball more than any team in the NFL, while passing less than all but two teams. As it happens, stopping the run is what the Texans do best. The Texans boast the NFL’s 2nd ranked run defense in terms of yards per attempt, and they have allowed less than 80 yards rushing in five of their last six games.
The Ravens rely on their defense forcing turnovers, but the Texans rarely turn the ball over. They have played turnover-free football in six of their last eight games, and the Texans have turned the ball over more than once on offense in just three games all year.
Then there’s C.J. Stroud. The Texans’ rookie quarterback has been playing out of his mind lately. With the exception of the brutal beating the New York Jets defense gave him, Stroud has been virtually flawless down the stretch, culminating in a 157 passer rating masterpiece against the Cleveland Browns’ #1 rated defense last week. Stroud is on fire. Maybe that will be enough to shock the world today.
I’m taking the Texans to get the NFL Divisional Round off to a rollicking start with a huge upset over the Ravens today.