Thank goodness this game is indoors. Otherwise, with the weather around the league this weekend, these two teams may not have been able to play tonight.
For the record, today is Houston there is a high of 57, and a low of 39, with a 0% chance of precipitation.
On to tonight’s game: Baltimore Ravens (8-4, 3-3 road) at Houston Texans (5-7, 3-3 home). With a win or a loss, the Texans would be in third place in the AFC South, and would be virtually out of playoff contention.
So Baltimore has much more to lose. They have scored 27 points in their last two games, and will need to score at least that to keep up with the Texans, as Houston scores 24 points a game.
Baltimore also needs to win out to maximize their chances of a first round bye. The Ravens host the Saints next week, so this game tonight is crucial.
Mike’s keys to the game: HOUSTON
1. Run, run, run
- Arian Foster needs 49 yards rushing to continue leading the league in rushing. If the Texans put long drives together on offense, it will help in tiring the Ravens defense, which may leave them vulnerable to Andre Johnson.
- Baltimore is ranked 19th in the league in rushing, averaging 3.6 yards per carry.
2. Sack Flacco
- DE Mario Williams has 8.5 sacks this year. OLB Brian Cushing is also a threat to rush the passer. If the Texans get to Flacco, they can limit the Ravens pass game and force them to run. Flacco has been sacked 27 times this season (tied for seventh most).
3. Play Physical
- Although the Ravens lost a brutal street fight last week vs. the Steelers, they know they could have won, which means they will be really fired up tonight.
- The Texans need to match the physicality of the Ravens (if not exceed it) if they want a shot to win this game.
Prediction: Ravens 30, Texans 21
Rob’s keys to the game: BALTIMORE
After dropping a close game the Pittsburgh Steelers at home last Sunday 13-10, the Baltimore Ravens travel to Houston to take on the inconsistent Texans. Before you Ravens fans just chalk this one up as a win, you might want to re-think that decision, because the Texans can be explosive.
Don’t forget that Houston has the NFL’s second overall leading rusher, Arian Foster, with 1,230 rush yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. Foster also is fourth overall among running backs with 50 receptions and two receiving touchdowns.
Now add All-Pro WR Andre Johnson to the mix. The Ravens defense will definitely be put to test tonight trying to contain these two studs.
If the Ravens want to get a win tonight and stay in the running for a wild-card playoff spot they need to do a few things:
1. Stop the run
- The Ravens are sixth overall in run defense allowing 97.8 yards a game. The Ravens defensive line and line backers will need to contain Foster who is averaging 102.5 yards a game but posseses big play ability.
2. Contain Andre Johnson
- Baltimore’s secondary has struggled all year, especially with big play receivers. Johnson is fourth overall in the NFL with 1,018 receiving yards and the Ravens average giving up about 208 yards a game through the air.
3. Open up the playbook
- Cam Cameron, please take the training wheels off of Flacco and this offense. I speak for many Ravens fans when I say we’ve been waiting patiently, you went out and got the weapons, you have power and speed at running back (McGahee and Rice). You found the future QB in Flacco…right? Then why aren’t we exciting? Why are we always playing conservative? It’s almost playoff time–show us the offense we’ve been promised.
4. Finish Strong
- The Ravens had several opportunities to put the Steelers away last week. The Ravens let teams come back in the fourth quarter. If they want to stay in the playoff race, they need to get out in front early and FINISH the Texans.
- If they let the Texans hang around, they could very well beat them. Just watch the Eagles game…they almost let the Texans take that game from them.
5. Pass Rush
- Terrell Suggs had his best game this year last week vs. Pittsburgh and was disrupting Roethlisberger all night. The Ravens need to dial up the pressure and make it hard for Schaub and the Texans offense to get into a rhythm. Once they get up on the Texans early and punish them defensively, they will take the crowd out of the game.
This is a must-win game for the Ravens; an absolute, flat out, must-win.
Tune-in tonight to ESPN to see the Baltimore Ravens take on the Houston Texans.
Rob and I both agree the Ravens will win, although the Texans will fight until the end.
Enjoy the game!
Thanks for reading.