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The Picks Are In: Will The Ravens Beat The Texans?

>> Back To Countdown To Kickoff: Ravens vs. Texans 

PressBox experts and friends weigh in with their predictions for Sunday's AFC Divisional Round matchup between the Ravens and the Texans:

Morgan Adsit | Femi Ayanbadejo | Buzz Battaglia | Cornell Brown | Rob Burnett | Jayne CharlesJosh CharlesStan "The Fan" CharlesDanielle Chazen | Jerry ColemanJamie Costello | Steve deCastro | Carl Delmont | Dan Duquette | Mike FlynnMike GathaganMichael GibbonsKathryn Goldman | Terry Hasseltine | Kevin Healey | Craig HeistJim Henneman | Syreeta HubbardKelli Johnson | Helene Levey | Anita Marks | John Maroon | Stephen Martino | Paul MittermeierKeith Mills | Mr. Basement | Gov. Martin O'Malley | Rich Paul | Joe Platania | Jim PoppBruce PosnerBoog Powell | Andrew Primrose | Ray SchulteJeff Seidel | Gary Stein | Bennie ThompsonBill West | Wally WilliamsKen Zalis

Plus: What does a Houston Texans fan think?

Gov. Martin O'Malley  

Keys to the game:
- Get Boldin back into the offense quickly.
- Make sure Ray Rice runs the ball.
- Shut down the Texans' running game. Yates will have to pass and that's a lot of pressure to put on a rookie quarterback on the road in the playoffs with a team that is 8-0 at home.

Prediction: Ravens 27, Texans 17

Stan "The Fan" Charles
PressBox publisher and host of "Inside PressBox" on ABC-2

Neither offense will excel in this one, but fanatic home fans will rev up the Baltimore defense for one or two key field-possession shifts in favor of the home team.

Prediction: Ravens 22, Texans 13

Josh Charles 
Actor, CBS' "The Good Wife"

Keys to the game: Ravens need to protect the football (obviously), run it effectively enough to open up the pass, contain Arian Foster and force T.J. Yates to make the plays. If they do those things, I think Ray Rice, Joe Flacco and the defense wins this for the home crowd. I expect a battle though.

Prediction: Ravens 27, Texans 14

Dan Duquette  
Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations

If the Ravens avoid turnovers and can get the ball into the hands of their playmakers, we will be looking at an incredibly exciting O's FanFest/Ravens AFC title game next weekend.

Prediction: Ravens 23, Texans 7

Cornell Brown  
Former Ravens linebacker

Look for a physical game that will be won in the fourth quarter. The key to the game will be the protection of the two o-lines and which RB gets the most touches. Who gets their running back the ball the most via run and pass will win the game.

Prediction: Ravens 24, Texans 13

Rob Burnett 
Retired Ravens DE  

The Ravens, unbeaten at home this year, start off slow and trail most of the game but win on the final drive and advance to the AFC championship game vs. the Pats. 

Prediction: Ravens 24, Texans 21

 Wally Williams 
Former Ravens offensive lineman

The Ravens should have no problem with the Texans. Ray Rice is the key to winning, as he has been all year. Feed your horse and good things happen! Defensively, stop Arian Foster and Ben Tate and attack T.J. Yates. Make Yates win the game. A rookie QB against the Ravens D is the kind of dinner that makes the Ravens salivate.

Prediction: Ravens 31, Texans 17 

Bennie Thompson   
Former Ravens All-Pro Special Teamer
The Texans will come to Baltimore feeling like they have already accomplished their mission: getting to the playoffs and winning a home playoff game. They will not be prepared for the crowd and the passion the Ravens faithful and players will put on display. If the Ravens focus, they'll blow the Texans out.

Prediction: Ravens 30, Texans 14

Femi Ayanbadejo  
Former ravens running back and the brother of Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo

The Ravens will keep the Texans' run game in check, pressure the young QB and run the ball on offense. Ravens win, 27-13.

Prediction: Ravens 27, Texans 13

Mike Flynn 
Retired Ravens C/OL  

Right now, the strength of the Texans is thier offensive line and running game. This feeds into what the Ravens have always done well, stop the running game. Look for the Ravens to drop an extra man in the box or implement some run blitz and line games on run downs. This will force Yates to beat them. On offense, I expect a lot of Ray Rice and hopefully a gameplan to utilize the two solid tight ends of the Ravens. The Texans defense is solid and will be a challenge.  

Prediction: Ravens 24, Texans 10

Jim Popp 
GM Montreal Alouettes, CFL (Former GM Baltimore Stallions) 

Three keys to the game: 1. Who plays the most physical. 2. Get the ball to Ray Rice. This will give Joe Flacco freedom and chances for big plays. 3. How much the defense can harass T.J. Yates.

Prediction: Ravens 24, Texans 14

Jamie Costello
ABC-2 anchor

A good start Sunday will end well in Indy. Never felt this good about this team.

Prediction: Ravens 24, Texans 10

Keith Mills  
WBAL-TV  and radio

The Ravens play well at home because they feed off the energy of the crowd and play with a tremendous amount of confidence. I see that continuing on Sunday. Even with a healthier Andre Johnson and a hot Arian Foster, rookie quarterback T.J. Yates should have a lot of trouble with both the crowd and a fresh Ravens defense.

Prediction: Ravens 24, Texans 13

Boog Powell  
Former Baltimore Oriole

The Houston guys are going to have to run and they will find out pretty quick that they can't. Sic  'em, Ray!

Prediction: Ravens 17, Texans 10

Gary Stein
Talk Show Host, 105.7 The Fan

The Ravens convert in the red zone with Dennis Pitta and Ray Rice. It's on to New England to battle Tom Brady and the refs ...

Prediction: Ravens 27, Texans 13

Bill West
President of Ravens Roost 15 and host of The Purple Pride Sports Show on 1370-AM

The Ravens will press the defense on rookie quarterback T.J. Yates and not allow the run to get started. Joe Flacco needs a turnover-free game, runs for Ray Rice and then a strike to Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Dennis Pitta or Ed Dickson. Then they could work Lee Evans into the mix and get a Ravens victory.

Prediction: Ravens 24, Texans 13

Morgan Adsit
Host of Sports Unlimited on Fox 45 Baltimore

The Ravens need to make the Texans' offense one-dimensional -- take RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate out of the equation, similar to Week Six, when the Ravens beat the Texans, 29-14, in Baltimore. This is what the Ravens defense does best -- stop the run and get after the quarterback. The Ravens defense needs to make Houston QB T.J. Yates look like what he is -- a third-string-turned-starting rookie quarterback. That won't be easy. He's playing at a high level with plenty of confidence, but if they can force Yates into third-and-long situations where he has to throw the ball, the Ravens secondary should take care of the rest. The Texans run a number of schemes on offense, so if the Ravens' front seven can contain the run and get after Yates, it could get ugly for Houston.

On offense, the Ravens need to control the clock and stick with the game plan. Feed Ray Rice and don't overwhelm Joe Flacco. In throwing situations, I think it's key this week to get Lee Evans touches and involved. If the Ravens make a playoff run, they are going to need more than Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. They also need to continue to use both tight ends, Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson.

Prediction: Ravens 23, Texans 10

Jerry Coleman  
Sports Personality, 105.7 The Fan

I think the Ravens will prevail because they have more talent, they are healthier and they are almost unbeatable at home. Having beat Houston already (with a much better QB) should also help the Ravens' psyche. The Texans just won their first-ever playoff game, so I think this game is a layup for the Ravens. It will not be a repeat of '06.

Prediction: Ravens 24, Texans 10

Michael Gibbons    
Director of Sports Legends Museum and Babe Ruth Birthplace

A rookie QB cannot read Ed Reed, leading to two+ picks. Joe Flacco and Ray Rice pound and grind the Texans into submission.

Prediction: Baltimore 24, Texans 6

Joe Platania 
PressBox Ravens beat writer

A healthy Andre Johnson helps Houston, but a robust home crowd helps the Ravens more.

Prediction: Ravens 30, Texans 20

Ron Greenbaum     
Mr. Basement

Houston is hungry, but defense wins big ball games, especially at home. The Ravens will win with a last-minute field goal.

Prediction: Ravens 17, Texans 14

Ken Zalis   
Fantasy football expert,

T.J. Yates is not going to come into M&T and win a playoff game. Andre Johnson missed the 15-point defeat the Texans had in Baltimore earlier this year, and as great as he is, he is not worth 15 points to his team. The Ravens are (I think) 9 or 10 and 1 under coach John Harbaugh after a bye and were 8-0 at home this year. M&T will be rocking this Sunday. No worries ... go Broncos!

Prediction: Ravens 27, Texans 20

Anita Marks    
Former Baltimore sports radio host, currently with WFAN in New York, The NY Giants, Sirius XM

Two of the best defenses in the NFL face off, but the Ravens have home-field advantage and no one rocks it like Charm City. Advantage Joe Flacco over rookie QB T.J. Yates, who plays very conservative. And with that being said, Cam Cameron needs to open the flood gates and allow the passing game to thrive, because that is where this game will be won. Arian Foster and Ray Rice will be limited. I would like to see Torrey Smith have a huge game, and the Ravens need to get Lee Evans in the mix. This will be a defensive battle, but the Ravens will advance.

Prediction: Ravens 20, Texans 17 

Steve deCastro  
Owner, Ruth Chris Steakhouse

In Joe we trust!

Prediction: Ravens 27, Texans 16

Bruce Posner  
"The Terp Talk Guy"

No rookie QB can come into M&T and beat the Ravens, let alone a Tar Heel! Ravens will dominate with a mixture of Ray Rice and Torrey Smith. Maybe this is the game Lee Evans shows up.

Prediction: Ravens 23, Texans 10

Carl Delmont  
Owner, Freedmont Mortgage 

The Ravens at home are too much for most teams, and Houston will arrive confident but leave deflated. The running game will allow for some downfield gains. Ray Rice should break 100 yards and Torrey Smith will shine along with Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. If you work in Baltimore City, be prepared for delays the week after Super Bowl -- you have a parade coming downtown.

Prediction: Ravens 27, Texans 13

Coach "Buzz" Battaglia  
Host of ESPN 1300's "The Coach's Buzz"

Two big keys: Texans D won't be able to stop Ray Rice, and Texans OL won't be able to stop T-Sizzle from sacking T.J. Yates.

Prediction: Ravens 31, Texans 17

Andrew Primrose    
Writer, Baltimore Sports Blog on
There is zero doubt in my mind that the Ravens are the better team heading into Sunday's matchup at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens need to get off to a fast start offensively, and on defense they can't allow the Texans to isolate their tight ends against the Ravens' linebackers. The Ravens will get things going early and the game gets away from a rookie quarterback on the road in the playoffs.
Prediction: Ravens 32, Texans 9

Kevin Healey
President, Baltimore Blast 

The keys to the game will be the Ravens offensive line providing protection for Joe Flacco and the Ravens defense effectively stopping the Texans rushing attack.  

Prediction: Ravens 23, Texans 16

Jim Henneman
PressBox columnist 

Efficient offense dominates the clock and carries the day. But it's the last time the offense can be one-dimensional if the journey is to continue. 

Prediction: Ravens 23, Texans 13

Terry Hasseltine
Director, Maryland Office of Sports Marketing 

Three keys to a Ravens victory: 1. Ravens defense shuts down and or disrupts Texans offense significantly. 2. Ravens ground game (Run, Ray, run!) leads to successful passing game and no turnovers. 3. Ravens fans and atmosphere in and around M&T Bank Stadium. 

Prediction: Ravens 27, Texans 17

Paul Mittermeier
Director of communications, Ed Block Courage Awards 

To win, the Ravens need to limit turnovers. The 2006 Divsional Playoff loss to the Colts is a perfect case in point. The Ravens defense held one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL histoy to 0 TDs. However, two costly turnovers -- Todd Heap's only fumble of the entire season and a Steve McNair red zone interception -- ended any chance of a Ravens victory. In my opinion, the Ravens have played their whole season for this moment. They won't let it slip through their fingers, and T.J. Yates is no Peyton Manning.

Prediction: Ravens 27, Texans 7

Rich Paul
Handicapper, Maryland Jockey Club 

If the game were in Houston, the outcome would be more in doubt, but the Ravens are rested, focused and operating in an extremely friendly environment. Everybody who can catch a pass, including Lee Evans, will.

Prediction: Ravens 26, Texans 20

Mike Gathagan
Vice president of communications, Maryland Jockey Club  

Baltimore defense will make Houston one-dimensional, and the Ravens will cruise into the AFC Championship game. 

Prediction: Ravens 23, Texans 13

Stephen Martino
Director of Maryland Lottery  

The Ravens running game with Ray Rice will set the tone and establish the passing game, allowing Joe Flacco to have a balanced and strong effort. The Ravens defense will swarm T.J. Yates, although they need to keep track of Andre Johnson. Protecting the ball and feeding off of an electric crowd will push the Ravens on to the AFC Championship Game.

Prediction: Ravens 27, Texans 13

Jeff Seidel
PressBox contributor 

The Ravens need to run the ball effectively, slow Houston's good running game, and hit quarterback T.J. Yates very often. If the Ravens can control Arian Foster and Ben Tate on the ground, that will force Yates to win this game, and that won't happen.

Prediction: Ravens 28, Texans 17

Helene Levey 
Famous mother-in-law of Stan "The Fan"  

The stats do not lie -- the Ravens' home advantage is the ticket.

Prediction: Ravens 16, Texans 14

Jayne Charles 
Wife of Stan "The Fan"  

Jan. 16 is Joe Flacco's birthday, and he can look forward to two celebrations that day!

Prediction: Ravens 27, Texans 13

Kathryn Goldman  
Lawyer, Goldman & Minton 

T. Yates will meet T. Sizzle so the ball gets thrown to L. Webb. J. Cool will control the airways and R. Rice will run, Ray, run.

Prediction: Ravens 24, Texans 13

Kelli Johnson  
Comcast SportsNet football reporter  

No surprise: With two of the best defenses in the NFL and two of the best running backs in Arian Foster and Ray Rice, the team that can force more turnovers and win the battle on the ground will advance to the conference championship game.

Prediction: Ravens 24, Texans 13

John Maroon 
Owner, Maroon PR 

Two outstanding defenses in this game. I think that Arian Foster will get off to a fast start but the Ravens defense will adjust and limit him in the second half putting too much pressure on the rookie quarterback. Look for a great game from Ray Rice (what a surprise) and a second half that is dominated by the Ravens D. 

Prediction: Ravens 20, Texans 10

Craig Heist 
Sports reporter, WTOP Radio 

A quick start is essential for the Ravens as they do not want to give the visiting Texans any confidence with a rookie quarterback in T.J. Yates. The Ravens need to feed Ray Rice the football early and often. The Ravens will win the game and advance to the AFC Championship game. 

Prediction: Ravens 27, Texans 14

Syreeta Hubbard 
The NFL Chick  

I actually feel sorry for T.J. Yates, a rookie QB playing with a bad (non-throwing) shoulder. He has NO idea what this Ravens defense is like, but he's about to get a crash course from Ball So Hard University. I fully expect to see Vonta Leach send Houston a painful reminder why letting him go was the worst move ever by putting Brian Cushing on the turf this weekend as Ray Rice runs wild against the Texans defense.

Prediction: Ravens 24, Texans 13

Ray Schulte 
Owner of Schulte Sports 

In order for the Texans to have any kind of chance, they must contain Ray Rice and create enough defensive pressure up-front to disrupt Joe Flacco. Conversely, the Ravens must stop Houston's tandem of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Ravens have the edge. 

Prediction: Ravens 28, Texans 10

Danielle Chazen  
PressBox reporter  

The Ravens' ground game, led by Ray Rice, will allow the Ravens to win the time-of-possession battle. The Texans' rookie quarterback T.J. Yates will not be able to withstand the pressure put on him by the Ravens defense.

Prediction: Ravens 27, Texans 13