• It's unanimous -- All of ESPN's NFL "experts" pick the Ravens to beat the Texans.
• All four analysts on ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown also think the Ravens will win.
• The Madden 12 simulation on ESPN.com predicts a three-point victory for the Ravens.
The hardest-hitting and most defensively aggressive game of the week, the Texans take the early lead thanks to a 10-yard touchdown run by Arian Foster, but the Ravens answer in the second half thanks to the accurate foot of Billy Cundiff and a Ray Rice touchdown reception that put the Ravens up for good. Rice finished the game with 124 all-purpose yards, including Baltimore's only touchdown of the day. Luckily for Ravens fans, that's all they would need to beat Houston.
• Peter King of SI.com predicts a win for the Ravens, but he doesn't think Joe Flacco will have much to do with it.
Ravens 30, Texans 20: Joe Flacco's right: He's never going to have the big numbers in the Baltimore offense -- but that's not only because the Ravens have a great runner in Ray Rice. It's because Flacco hasn't progressed as a passer the way the team had hoped. His 57.6-percent accuracy was 25th in the league this year, and how are you going to have your offensive coordinator and your head coach trust you to be a bombs-away guy when you're completing passes at a Kevin Kolb rate? I think Rice out-runs Arian Foster here anyway.
• SI.com's "Bet On It" feature predicts a run-heavy offense for the Ravens.
Ray Rice and Ricky Williams will combine for at least 35 touches: It's no secret that the Ravens' offense is better off when Rice gets the ball early and often. Houston's stout front may force a little adjustment to that game plan Sunday -- don't be shocked if Baltimore comes out firing a bit, just to loosen up the Texans' defense. But in the long run, Baltimore will do what it can to get the ball to its running backs, either on straight handoffs or in the short passing game. That'll be doubly true if the Ravens can establish a lead. In that case, as we've seen in the past, Baltimore will go old school and pound the ball.
• ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio and Gregg Rosenthal both pick the Ravens to advance to the AFC championship.
Florio's take: The Ravens have won 15 of 16 home games in the past two seasons. They've played seven playoff games -- all on the road -- since 2008, winning four. They finally get to continue their home slate in the middle of January, and even though the Texans will be feeling loose and confident and overlooked and disrespected, only the Steelers had any real shot at beating the Ravens in Baltimore. Florio's pick: Ravens 24, Texans 10.
Rosenthal's take: The Ravens won the line of scrimmage battle when these teams first played. That can't happen again for the Texans. Houston's defense and running game has to dominate because T.J. Yates is going to get blitzed in ways he never dreamed of. The Ravens don't often win convincingly, but they also don't lose at home. Rosenthal's pick: Ravens 24, Texans 14.
• CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco thinks the Ravens will take advantage of their first home playoff game under John Harbaugh's leadership.
Ravens 23, Texans 17: The Ravens will be playing their first home playoff game under John Harbaugh. That's something they've strived to get for a long time. But that will put added pressure on them. They do get the benefit of facing a rookie quarterback in T.J. Yates. The Ravens won an earlier meeting 29-16 and that was with starting quarterback Matt Schaub playing for the Texans. But they didn't have Andre Johnson (hamstring) that day. He is healthy now, which will help back off the safeties. Houston will try and run Arian Foster, which is tough to do against the Ravens defense. That will put it on Yates. In a first road playoff game, that's asking a lot. Joe Flacco will outduel the kid to advance the Ravens to the AFC Championship Game.
• All five CBSSports.com analysts believe the Ravens will beat the Texans.
• Vinnie Iyer of The Sporting News says it will be tough to score with two top-rated defenses in the game.
This should be the one pure defensive struggle of the weekend. Rookie QB T.J. Yates has done an admirable fill-in job for the Texans, culminating with last week's playoff win over the Cincinnati Bengals. But if Arian Foster and the running game aren't dominant -- which they can't expect to be against Baltimore's stingy, AFC-best rushing defense -- Yates will struggle. Terrell Suggs and the Ravens' pass rushers will be licking their chops to put pressure on Yates.
On the other side, don't expect the Ravens, at home, to go pass-happy with Joe Flacco. That would be a risky proposition against Wade Phillips' superb 3-4 pass rush.
Instead, expect the Ravens to ride the running and receiving skills of Ray Rice. Rice has been an ace playoff performer in his short career -- especially when he hasn't had to face the Steelers. Rice rumbled for 161 yards from scrimmage against Houston in Week 6 and will that trump in the rematch. Prediction: Ravens 23, Texans 10.
• FoxSports.com's Peter Schrager doesn't just think the Ravens will win against the Texans -- he believes it will be a blowout.
Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and coach John Harbaugh are all 4-3 all time in the NFL playoffs, but have shockingly never played or coached in a postseason game in Baltimore. The Ravens were unbeatable in their stadium this year, going 8-0 with wins over league heavyweights Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Houston. The Ravens fans haven't seen a playoff game in their city since 2006 and will be ready to go from the very start. The Texans had a nice run and last week was a good win for the franchise. They're going to get blown out badly in this one. The Pick: Ravens 34, Texans 6
• Cris Collinsworth and Phil Simms pick the Ravens to win, but Warren Sapp thinks the Texans will grab a victory on the road.
Seeing other predictions on this week's NFL games? Leave them as a comment below.
[Compiled by Dean Jones Jr.]Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times