NFL Tips: Texans test Ravens in 22/1 playoff showdown on Saturday night

It's the toughest, meanest, nastiest weekend of the NFL season, and Andrew Cunneen says Houston can put top seed Baltimore to the test

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Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens Bet Builder Tips

Handicap: Houston +9.5
Anytime Touchdown Scorer: Isaiah Likely
CJ Stroud Total Passing Yards: Over 238.5
Nico Collins Total Receiving Yards: Over 80.5
Zay Flowers Total Receiving Yards: Over 47.5

Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens

Divisional Round Playoffs, Saturday, 9:30pm
Live on Sky Sports NFL

I love the Wild Card weekend, don’t get me wrong, but there’s always a chance that, since the NFL expanded the amount of playoff teams, that it wouldn’t quite live up to the “Super” marketing opportunity they hoped for.

However, once the Divisional Round comes in, there’s no place to hide.

Houston took advantage of a decrepit Joe Flacco and people think that makes them Super Bowl contenders? Welcome to the Baltimore Ravens.

Green Bay capitalised on a mentally-weak Dallas team? Good luck contending with San Francisco in the playoffs.

Tampa Bay p***ed all over the fadeaway Eagles who were the worst team in the NFL over the last six weeks? Well, Detroit and Ben Johnson’s high-powered offense wait in the wings.

And Kansas City might be able to stump past the classic Mike McDaniel brainfart, but now they go to Buffalo and try to repeat what they’ve done to the Bills in the past, without any receivers and a Taylor-Swift infatuated Travis Kelce.

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – JANUARY 13: Taylor Swift celebrates with fans during the AFC Wild Card Playoffs between the Miami Dolphins and the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on January 13, 2024 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

This is football.

To kick things off, we have Houston in Maryland.

Handicap: Houston +9.5

This is a crazy line, and I’m not even remotely interested in a Baltimore blowout here.

The only difference between Ben Johnson of Detroit and Bobby Slowick of Houston is media buzz. What the latter been able to do with rookie quarterback CJ Stroud is incredible, and the Ravens are down enough pieces that the Texans can operate quite functionally against them.

Baltimore are a team that pile on, but that’s very much a regular season trope and once the playoffs come, they’ll be trying to limit their postseason looks as best they can.

Anytime Touchdown Scorer: Isaiah Likely

The only reason I won’t pick Houston to win outright is because of the glaring weakness of this Houston defense. They can’t defend tight ends, and even if the returning Mark Andrews plays for Baltimore, he’ll be on a limited snap count.

David Njoku broke Houston last week for 93 yards on seven grabs. Isaiah Likely isn’t as good an athlete as his Cleveland counterpart, but he’s a bigger body and that’s when the extra spy defender on Lamar in the red zone frees up the big man to score.

CJ Stroud Total Passing Yards: Over 238.5

Last week was the moment when everyone realised Houston’s offence didn’t need to help CJ Stroud win the game, they just need to let him go win the game for them.

He’s an incredible athlete and his ability to throw out of structure is what puts him in the Mahomes skillset conversation.

There’s no gameplan whatsoever that Houston can have where he throws under this tally.

Nico Collins Total Receiving Yards: Over 80.5

Nico Collins is the clear number one receiver on this team when Tank Dell is out.

He’s almost always the first read for Stroud, and while I hadn’t planned on focusing on him for this game, the fact Baltimore are down their top cornerback in Marlon Humphrey means that he can feast on a porous secondary.

Zay Flowers Total Receiving Yards: Over 47.5

Flowers will get all the looks from Lamar because Houston corner Derek Stingley will follow him, and Flowers will move in motion a tonne.

He’s proven himself to be a real threat with the ball in his hands and the fact he can potentially secure this kind of yardage in one designed pass play means it’s value in this context.

Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens Bet Builder Tips

Handicap: Houston +9.5
Anytime Touchdown Scorer: Isaiah Likely
CJ Stroud Total Passing Yards: Over 238.5
Nico Collins Total Receiving Yards: Over 80.5
Zay Flowers Total Receiving Yards: Over 47.5

*All odds and lines quoted are accurate at time of publication but are subject to change

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