Monday Night Football is upon us in Baltimore, as the Ravens play host to the Houston Texans. The Texans have been attempting to make it work with Tom Savage as their quarterback. He could be doing a better job, but he also could be doing a lot worse. Savage is who he is, a backup quarterback who doesn’t give off the impression he should be a starter.
Deshaun Watson was rolling for the Texans when he went down for the year. Under Watson, the Texans scored 208 points, and with Savage the Texans have scored 59 points in four weeks. Without even looking at the stats, watching Watson and Savage play is night and day. Nevertheless, Savage came up big last week, leading the Texans to a 31-21 win over the Cardinals. We hit the Texans for a win last week, as we faded Blaine Gabbert and sided with Savage.
The Texans enter Monday night with a record of 4-6. Conversely, the Ravens come in at 5-5. There’s still a way to go this season, and the wildcard is there for the taking for a lot of teams. It’s really unfortunate that we haven’t been able to see the Texans at full health. Deshaun Watson isn’t the only big injury that the Texans have had to battle through.
J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus were both lost for the season, depriving the Texans of two critical cogs on the defense. Watson was forced to play in shootouts and keep up with the scoring. He was able to do that, but it’s put more strain on the team without him in the lineup. Their best defensive performances in the last six weeks were against the Blaine Gabbert and the Cardinals, Jacoby Brissett and the Colts, followed by Kevin Hogan and the Browns.
When you look at the decent offenses they’ve faced, they could not play competitive football against them. The Rams scored 33 in a 33-7 game, the Seahawks put up 41, and the Chiefs scored 42 points. From what we’ve seen from the Chiefs of late, is there offense all it was cracked up to be, though? The point here is that the Texans have been getting some bad offenses to help skew their numbers a bit. The Ravens aren’t an elite offense, but they’ve been coming along. They went into Lambeau and blanked the Packers for a 23-0 final. Brett Hundley may have looked good last night against the Steelers, but the Ravens confused him all game long. Hundley finished with 3 interceptions and no touchdowns.
Hundley played a nice game last night, however, the Steelers had busted coverages galore. I won’t take anything away from him, but his yardage came on plays with the Steelers secondary running around drunk. The Ravens had Hundley running around drunk last week, and hope to do the same to Tom Savage tonight in Baltimore. Head below for our free Texans vs. Ravens pick on Monday Night Football.
Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens Betting Odds:
vs. Ravens -7(-115)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Texans vs. Ravens Pick:
Along with the injuries for the Texans, two-time pro-bowler, Jonathan Joseph is losing a step at the corner position. Certainly, though, the presence of Watt rushing the passer, and a linebacker like Whitney Mercilus makes it so much easier on the secondary. Take those two cogs out and it impacts everyone else on defense. The Texans are 28th in the league, allowing 252.8 yards per game through the air.
Joe Flacco’s numbers have looked ugly this year, with 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His QB rating was hovering around the worst in the NFL. Flacco will have opportunities to find his targets against a bad secondary in this one, though. This one is all on him if he has a bad game. The Texans are lacking from a personnel standpoint on their defense, which Flacco must be able to exploit.
The Ravens will have Danny Woodhead playing at 100% tonight. Last week they had Woodhead on a snap count, as he played only 13 downs against the Packers. Woodhead caught 5 balls for 21 yards. His role on offense will be greatly enhanced tonight. The Ravens like to utilize him more so in the passing game. You will see plenty of short routes designed to get the ball in his hands. Alex Collins remains as the featured back.
Tom Savage leads the NFL in a stat he’d rather not want to be ahead in. Savage leads the NFL with 7 fumbles on the year. Defense for the Ravens has been improving as the year has gone on. They already have three shutouts, which came against the Packers, Dolphins, and Bengals. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams has been a big reason for that. Without Williams in the lineup, the Ravens were giving up 170 rushing yards per game.
Since his return, the Ravens have surrendered just 11.75 points per game. Williams is making good money, and as we’ve seen, he is extremely value to his team and earning the pay. He is one of the most underrated defenders in the NFL. As a group, the Ravens have been the most underrated defense in the league this year. The Baltimore secondary has been stout as well. They’re allowing only 185.2 passing yards per game for 2nd in the league.
The defense should carry the Ravens in this one against Tom Savage. As bad as Flacco has been, he should be able to hit some plays against a bad Houston defensive unit. Danny Woodhead with a clean bill of health is going to help out immensely. The Texans must honor Woodhead’s ability underneath. I’m sure the Ravens watched Hundley dice up the Steelers last night, and are stressing not to take their opponent lightly like the Steelers did. John Harbaugh has to get his guys up and ready to perform.
The Steelers did not look like they wanted to be playing football last night and came unprepared on the defensive side. The Ravens’ defense made an inexperienced QB look lost in the park a week ago. They also did the same to Matt Moore a few weeks ago, and should be able to do it again at home against Savage. It’s certainly not a large wager or my favorite play of the year, but Ravens 26-17 looks pretty accurate for tonight.
PICK: RAVENS -7 (-115)