After the ‘bye’ week and heading into week 6 of the NFL season the Ravens face a formidable opponent in the 3-2 Houston Texans. Houston is coming off a loss at home to the Oakland Raiders. Houston grabbed an early lead in that game, but the Raiders found a way to chip away and take the lead. With a chance to score a game winning touchdown in the games final seconds and just a few yards from the end-zone, QB Matt Schaub threw an interception which ended the game.
The Houston Texans are a balanced team. Offensively, running back Arian Foster is one of the top running backs in the league. Foster missed a few games at the start of the season with a hamstring injury but was effective in his first game back versus the Steelers rushing for 155 yards. Against Oakland this past Sunday Foster rushed for 68 yards, but had 5 receptions for 116 yards. Back up running back Ben Tate took the bulk of the work the first three games of the season. Tate, after 4 games, ran for 321 yards, 4.7 average and 1 TD. Both backs are effective receivers coming out of the backfield. The rushing attack is ranked 5th in rush yards.
The Passing game led by QB Matt Schaub, in his 8th season, has plenty of weapons in the passing attack. WR Andre Johnson is a premier receiver and is a huge weapon in the offense. Johnson may miss the next few games due to a leg injury (he did not play this past Sunday). TE Owen Daniels is a ‘go-to’ type receiver and is second on the team in receptions. The Texans also utilize TE Joel Dreessen, WR Jacoby Jones and WR Kevin Walter, all are effective components in passing attack. Dreessen had a productive day versus Oakland with 7 rec. for 112 yards, 1 TD. The unit is ranked 11th in passing yards.
Defensively the Texans switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Phillips has been successful installing and coaching the 3-4 defense in his career. The front seven is talented group with standouts OLB Mario Williams (5 sacks), LB Brian Cushing, ILB DeMarco Ryans, DE Antonio Smith (4 sacks) and NT Shaun Cody. They are in the top five in sacks with 15. The team drafted the talented DE J.J. Watts who has excelled in the 3-4 scheme. The defense is ranked 12th against the run. Last Sunday versus the Oakland Raiders the unit held RB Darren McFadden to 51 yards rushing. Injury Update: “Outside linebacker Mario Williams is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle that will require surgery this week.”
The secondary struggled last year, but play has improved this season. In the offseason the team added former Bengals corner Jonathan Joseph to the mix. CB Kareem Jackson was one of the more talented corners coming out of the draft last year. Now, in his second year he has worked into the starting corner spot. The unit ranks 6th against the pass.
Last season on Monday Night Football the Ravens gave up a substantial (21 point) lead going in the second half. The game was won in overtime on a Josh Wilson interception ‘pick-six.’