Texans (0-0) at Ravens (0-0)
Spread: Ravens -9.5
Weather: Showers expected
The line for this contest opened at Baltimore Ravens -9.5, where it sat for most of the offseason. Then, in early August, it moved to Ravens -10 before moving back to Ravens -9.5 just before Lions at Chiefs kicked off.
The total has bounced between 45 and 43.5 points throughout the last few months. It’s currently settling in at 43.5 or 44 points.
Ravens Offense vs. Texans Defense
Lamar Jackson is a former MVP and one of the few players in the league who can carry an offense. He’ll open the season with the best group of wide receivers he’s ever had in Rashod Bateman, Zay Flowers and Odell Beckham Jr. As of this writing, Beckham and stud tight end Mark Andrews have some chance of being limited, if not outright missing this contest. Isaiah Likely is one of, if not the best, second-string tight ends in the league, but he’s not Andrews.
New offensive coordinator Todd Monken will make Baltimore a far more pass-centric offense. This change will likely make Baltimore a more dangerous team long-term, but there could be some growing pains early in the new system, especially if the Ravens are down key pass catchers.
The Houston Texans gave up the most rushing yards to running backs last season, which is great news for J.K. Dobbins. Texans' new head coach DeMeco Ryans will implement a new defensive philosophy that should turn Houston into more of a middle-of-the-pack run defense. Still, Baltimore will have a trench advantage in this contest, and the Ravens could beat up Houston in both phases.
Texans Offense vs. Ravens Defense
Houston’s offensive line had top-10 potential and looked like the strength of the offense. Then, former first-round picks LG Kenyon Green, RT Tytus Howard and Houston’s top two centers suffered injuries. Foundational pieces LT Laremy Tunsil and newly acquired RG Shaq Mason are still good to go, but this group is no longer a strength.
That’s bad news for rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, who enters the season with the league’s worst wide receiver group. Baltimore allowed the fifth-most receiving yards to wide receivers last season, but Houston is not well-positioned to take advantage of that weakness.
On top of that, the Ravens allowed the fourth-fewest rushing yards to running backs last season. Although, Baltimore gave up the sixth-most receiving yards to running backs last year, which is a positive for Dameon Pierce and Devin Singletary.
Ultimately, it’s hard to see Stroud’s offense having much success in this contest.
What You’re Betting On
Baltimore has been one of the most consistent football operations since the turn of the century. Unlike the rebuilding Texans, the Ravens are ready to win now.
While there are no sure things in survivor pools, the Ravens are as close as it gets against a rookie quarterback and coach making their debuts. Winning by considerable distance is more of a toss-up, but Jackson’s offense and the Ravens' consistent defense can certainly achieve that feat.
If you’re thinking about betting on that angle, assuming Stroud will struggle in his NFL debut is very reasonable. Playing the Ravens is a brutal opening-day draw for a rebuilding team like the Texans.
If you’re going to bet on Houston to keep this game close, you’re building that stance around coaching. Stroud needs to play a clean game against one of the most consistent defensive units in football. Considering his supporting cast, that’s a tall order, so that outcome would be game-plan-driven.
Alternatively, a bet on Houston could also be a bet against Jackson in a new offense that could be down two of their best pass-catchers. Both of those paths would place high expectations on a rebuilding Houston team.
Score Prediction: Ravens 23, Texans 13
Ryan’s Recent Betting Record
ATS 2021: 49-31
ATS 2022: 48-32
Props 2022: 60-40
Ryan Reynolds is the associate director of fantasy and betting at The 33rd Team. He has watched every snap of every NFL game since 2014 and has been covering NFL betting markets for five years. Follow Ryan @RyanReynoldsNFL on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.