Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans: 2014 Week 16 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (9-5) at Houston Texans (7-7)

This line was Houston -1 last week and now it’s Baltimore -6 in Houston. That’s a massive line movement, as it’s moved a full touchdown to compensate for Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injury. That’s a massive overreaction. Fitzpatrick is decent, but the Texans’ offense ranks just 19th in the NFL in rate of moving the chains. Meanwhile, both Case Keenum and Thad Lewis, the two candidates to start in this game, showed some decent flashes last season in brief periods as the starter. They’re downgrades from Fitzpatrick, but they’re not Ryan Lindley.

The Texans still have a solid defense (16th in rate of moving the chains allowed) and do not deserve to be 6 point home underdogs here. If Tom Brady got hurt this week, it don’t think that line would move more than a touchdown (that would put the Patriots at -3 at the Jets). The same thing is true with Aaron Rodgers (that would put Green Bay at -3.5 at Tampa Bay). When Rodgers got hurt last year, the line moved 6 points to compensate the following week. The reason this line moved 7 points instead of something more reasonable like 4 is because the odds makers know the public will still bet this spread no matter how high they put it, as they are doing so here. I love fading the public whenever it makes sense as they always lose money in the long run and this feels like a trap line for the public.

The Ravens rank 4th in rate of moving the chains differential on the season, moving them at a 77.46% rate, as opposed to 72.10% for their opponents, a differential of 5.35%. Meanwhile, the Texans come in 23rd, moving them at a 70.66% rate, as opposed to 72.33% for their opponents, a differential of -1.67%. That suggests this line should be about 4 in favor of Baltimore, which suggests that a line of 6 once you’ve taken injuries into account is reasonable, but Baltimore hasn’t been nearly as good on the road this season. On the road, they’ve moved the chains at a 76.23% rate, as opposed to 75.56% for their opponents, a differential of 0.68% that is 10 percentage points lower than 10.48% differential they have at home this season.

These relative road struggles are nothing new for the Ravens. Since Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh came in before the 2008 season, the Ravens are 46-11 straight up, outscoring opponents by an average of 10.33 points per game, at home, as opposed to 34-32, outscoring opponents by an average of 1.24 points per game on the road, a swing of about 9 points. Both of these two teams are in a good spot with easy games on deck, Houston with a home game against Jacksonville and Baltimore with a home game against Cleveland, but Houston is in the better spot here as significant home underdogs. Underdogs of 6 or more are 68-57 ATS since 2002 before being favorites of 6 or more, while home underdogs of 3 or more are 65-45 ATS since 1989 before being home favorites of 3 or more. The Texans should be the right side here.

Baltimore Ravens 17 Houston Texans 16

Pick against the spread: Houston +6

Confidence: Medium

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