The Wild Card weekend opens up Saturday featuring a glimpse of what’s to come in the AFC South. The Texans and Colts look to be strong favorites to win this division over the next four or five years, and their third matchup of the season kicks off the action.
On Sunday we will see a team travel across the country as the Chargers hope to knock off the Ravens in Baltimore. The phenom that’s been QB Lamar Jackson and the Ravens stingy D will look to avoid a home loss.
The Texans began their nine-game winning streak this year narrowly edging the Colts 34-31. Houston eventually came back down to earth as it was the Colts who eventually snapped that win streak, beating the Texans 24-21.
Both games are close, both teams feature QBs who can keep their teams in games no matter what. Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson will be the headliners, but the difference Sunday will be on the ground.
The Ravens boast one of the league’s top defenses, second in scoring D only to the Bears this year. But it’s not just defensive stops and turnovers, as Jackson has breathed new life into a Ravens offense that’s won six of their last seven.
The Chargers will have to navigate around their stud RB Melvin Gordon and his health, while relying on Old Faithful Phillip Rivers’ arm.
Colts at Texans Best Bet
The big stage is set for Luck and Watson to go back and forth, hoping to provide big plays resulting in a lot of points. But this is a deeper matchup featuring two more complete teams, both boasting opportunistic defenses and sound running games.
It’s Houston’s defense that pushes this game ultimately to the under, something much closer to the second time these two teams played in the regular season.
Deandre Hopkins was limited in the Texans loss, while Luck was pressured all day when the Colts lost. Look for both scenarios to play out here. Luck was sacked twelve times in their six losses, and JJ Watt is coming off a monster season.
Watt and Jadeveon Clowney accounted for over half of the team’s sacks (25 of 43) this year. Watt, in his first full year since 2015, accounted for 16 sacks and a league-high seven forced fumbles. Bet the under with 888Sport.
Chargers at Ravens Best Bets
Ravens (-2.5) over Chargers
Run the ball! That’s the theme for Sunday’s action in Baltimore. Since Jackson has taken over the reins at QB, Baltimore is averaging 229 yards per game. That is astounding factoring in that Jackson has also been able to make some big throws downfield. It might not be as easy for the Chargers, going up against the fourth ranked rushing defense in the NFL.
The biggest concern for the Chargers is how much they can rely on Gordon, who limped off the field in their Week 17 win in Denver. Despite the knee injury, Gordon is expected out there, but he’s been dealing with multiple injuries.
Bet on the Ravens to win and cover with 888Sport based off their previous experience with Gordon and the Chargers. Just two weeks ago Jackson outdueled Rivers and the Ravens held Gordon to 41 yards in a 22-10 Baltimore victory.
Player to Score 2 TDs: Lamar Jackson (+600)
It’s not a favorable payoff compared to a bunch of other players on the board, but it’s as close of a lock as you can get. The only difference in the Ravens offense has been the insertion of Jackson. The trickle-down effect of the offensive line and RB blocking better for Jackson over Joe Flacco is also pretty obvious.
Jackson will rely on deep threat John Brown and Mark Andrews in the air, the ground game is paced through the QB’s legs.
The Ravens have designed run plays for Jackson for every part of the field, including the red zone and short yardage. We already know Jackson will be asked to make some throws, as he was able to do in their first win against the Chargers, so the lock here comes with his feet.
Bet on a huge day on the ground for Jackson against the Chargers, accounting for at least two scores on the day.