Gridiron Gab Week Fourteen Preview – Baltimore at Houston

Baltimore (8-4)  @ Houston (5-7)

Back To Primetime

Baltimore travels to Houston to take on the Texans for a Monday Night Football match-up. The Ravens will quickly have to get over their loss to Pittsburg and focus on a Houston team who are looking to make up ground in their division.  The Texans, who have had a few heartbreaking losses, are 2 games out of first place with four games to play.

The Texans

Texans have a balanced offensive which is geared toward their running game.   RB Arian Foster has been a pleasant surprise as the leagues top rusher and second leading receiver on the team with 479 yards.   Foster has compiled 1230 yards, 5.5 yards a carry and 13 TD’s.  QB Matt Schaub has thrown for 3098 yards, with 17 TD’s, and 8 interceptions. Schaub’s numbers are down from last year because the unit has focused on the ground game.  Receiver Andre Johnson is a playmaker and has the size, speed and hands to make him a featured target.  Johnson has complied 1018 yards receiving, 14.3 average, and 5 TD’s. The unit ranks 10th in passing yards (242.5) and 7th in rushing yards (130.5). Points scored, the offense ranks 11th with 24.5.

There is no doubt the Texans have struggled on the defensive side of the ball. In particular, their secondary has been an area of weakness. The secondary is ranked 32nd in passing yards, allowing an average of 287.4 passing yards per game.   Rookie Kareem Jackson has 2 interceptions on the year. The run defense is ranked 10th averaging 101.4 yards a game. Mario Williams leads the team with 8.5 sacks. The defense ranks 27th in points allowed at 26.8.

Key Match-ups:

QB Joe Flacco vs. Houston’s secondary: Flacco and the offense will try to get off to a fast start. Houston has been outscored 68-36 in the first quarter and 105-68 in the second.  Houston’s Texans are ranked 31st in passing yards allowed.

Ravens CB’s Wilson/Webb vs. WR Andre Johnson: The Ravens can’t afford to let Johnson dominate the game.

Ray Lewis vs. RB Arian Foster: The Texans running back runs with power and has great cutback ability. The Ravens defensive line can’t get caught over pursing.  The Ravens improved the last four games, they are ranked 6th in the league versus the run.

OLB Terrell Suggs vs. LT Duane Brown: QB Matt Schaub has been sacked 26 times, Suggs is having a dominant season.  The pass push will be a huge factor in order to slow down the Texans passing game.

LT Michael Oher vs. DE Mario Williams: Oher will have to hold up the Texans pass rush specialist.  Williams has 8.5 sacks on the year.

RB Ray Rice vs. OLB Brian Cushing: Expect Cushing and the Texans linebackers pay close attention to Rice.

RT Marshall Yanda vs. DT Antonio Smith: Smith is strong against the run and has 3 sacks on the season.

WR Anquan Boldin/WRDerrick Mason vs. CB Kareem Jackson: Tough assignment for the rookie Jackson.

PLAYER WHO MAKES THE HIGHLIGHT FILM:

Jonathan Scruggs: Ray Lewis

“The iron is hot for Ray Lewis to strike and reclaim his team. The defense has been progressing nicely the last few weeks and was unquestionably dominant against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now is the time for Ray to rally the troops and make a statement by shutting down one of the better offenses in the league.”

Matt Jergensen: Ray Rice

“Coach Harbaugh spoke publicly about the need to improve the running game. I expect to see a more balanced attack against a team that is in a tailspin and can’t defend anybody. Not only will Rice attack the ground but expect him to grab a few screens as well.”

Gene Winner: Anquan Boldin

“Houston’s secondary has had issues this season, look for Boldin to put up some big numbers.”

Injury News:

Ravens:

Todd Heap: It is looking like tight end Heap is unlikely to play after injuring his hamstring last Sunday. That means most likely rookies Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta will be active for the game.

LeRon McClain: All indications are the Ravens fullback should be ready to play after missing last week’s game with an ankle sprain.

Texans:

Wide receiver Andre Johnson (ankle), defensive end Mario Williams (sports hernia), right tackle Eric Winston and right guard Mike Brisiel sat out of the Texans’ light practice on Tuesday morning. Kubiak called Johnson and Williams “day-to-day” but expects them to return on Thursday. http://www.houstontexans.com/

Still alive

At 5-7, the Texans are still alive in the AFC South, where parity reigns supreme in 2010. It’s the only division in the league in which only two games separate first and last place. The Jacksonville Jaguars lead the way at 7-5, followed by the Indianapolis Colts at 6-6. The Tennessee Titans share the Texans’ 5-7 record.” http://www.houstontexans.com/

BY THE NUMBERS:

Ravens-Offense

Passing Yards 15th (233.2)

Rushing Yards 16th (108.4)

Texans-Offense

Passing Yards 10th (242.5)

Rushing Yards 7th (130.5)

Ravens Defense:

Passing Yards allowed 11th (208.0)

Rushing Yards 6th (97.8)

Points allowed 4th (16.8)

Texans Defense:

Passing Yards allowed 32nd (287.4)

Rushing Yards 10th (101.4)

Points allowed 27th (26.8)


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