Houston has an elite running game and defense. That is a well-known blueprint for success. Very similar to the 49ers and the Ravens, unfortunately they are without their franchise QB. But you can only play with what you have, and Yates has played solid and Andre Johnson looks healthy after his big game last week. This team runs the football at will and hits you with the playaction by taking some chances downfield. Defensively, if they focus on Rice, who else is left besides Boldin who’s coming back from injury?
The Ravens are undefeated at home this season. Flacco has been in the playoffs, and Ray Rice can hit the home run at any moment. Defensively, you know you have a chance with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed in uniform. They get Boldin back from injury in the nick of time. The defense leads this team and Rice carries the load. This team has flashed both dominance, but has also played down to their level of competition. You would think Flacco has matured and will do just enough to advance.
Both teams have the same blueprint, play great defense and rely heavily on the running game. These are the 2nd and 3rd best defenses in football. I like the Texans’ offensive playcalling better because they take more chances downfield, but the Ravens have the better offensive line and handled them in the season when Houston was at full strength. When you check out the stats on both sides of the ball, these teams are nearly identical (even on special teams). In this slug-fest I’ll roll with the team that hasn’t lost at home.
Prediction: Baltimore over Houston, 16-13