I'll admit it.
With that being said, I can't see any way the 7.5-point underdog Houston Texans can win the AFC Divisional Round battle with Baltimore on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
Call me crazy, but I just don't see it. This is such a bad matchup for the Texans. They've had a marvelous season but I think it ends on Sunday.
With a thud.
Sure the Texans have Andre Johnson back now and he looked like his old self last week against the Bengals (90 yards receiving, 1 TD) but don't forget one other thing: they also have rookie quarterback T.J. Yates starting on the road in a very hostile environment. Against future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis (15 career playoff games) and Ed Reed (seven playoff INT). Against brilliant right outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, another Pro Bowler.
That's a tall order.
To be fair, Yates did not start in Baltimore's 29-14 victory over Houston in Week 6, but he's had a mediocre season at best with just three touchdown passes and three interceptions in six games. His QB rating is a pedestrian 80.7.
Baltimore allowed just 16.6 PPG (third in the league) and were second in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing opponents just 92.6 yards on the ground.
Oh, by the way, the Ravens were pretty good at defending the pass as well, ranking fourth overall (196.3 yards per game).
It looks like a long day for Johnson, Yates and Pro Bowl halfback Arian Foster. Foster was held to just 49 yards rushing against Baltimore in Week 6.
Let's not forget that the Texans have a solid defense as well, ranking fourth in scoring defense (17.4 PPG) and fourth and third in rushing and passing defense, respectively. They've had a breakthrough season.
However, not only will they be facing Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice (15 TD and 2,071 combined yards from scrimmage, the only player in the NFL to top the 2,000-yard mark), they'll be facing an experienced unit led by fourth-year QB Joe Flacco, who has already led the Ravens to three playoff victories. The former Delaware product is also 3-0 lifetime vs. the Texans with four touchdowns and one interception.
Not only that, but the Ravens were 8-0 at home during the regular season for the first time ever and own a stellar 73-23 ledger at M&T Bank Stadium since the 2000 campaign. They're 5-0 all-time vs. Houston.
Talk about walking into a tough situation. Playoff experience is such a key factor in these situations. The Texans just don't have enough of it. Not nearly enough.
Prediction: Ravens 27, Texans 10