Week 6 Match-Up : Houston (3-2) @ Baltimore (3-1)
The Ravens are coming off a bye week and look to continue their great play on defense. The Texans are a balanced and talented team. With their rival Indianapolis on the ropes Houston looks take the division and get to the playoffs this season. The Texans have a few key injuries: OLB Mario Williams will miss the entire season with a torn pectoral muscle and WR Andre Johnson will miss a few weeks with a leg injury suffered last Sunday. In an interesting move the NY Jets traded WR Derrick Mason to Houston. Mason is expected to fill the void while Johnson is out. Mason may play in Baltimore for the second time this year.
MLB Ray Lewis vs. RB Arian Foster: This will be a key to the game. Foster missed a few games to start the season, but returned effectively; in 3 games he has a 4.1 rushing average (62 att./256 yds.) and has 10 receptions for 134 yards. Last season in Houston the Ravens struggled to stuff Foster and he ran the ball effectively (20 carries for 100 yards). With receiver Andre Johnson out, that means the Ravens can get a little more aggressive stacking the box and bringing in SS Bernard Pollard to defend the run.
Ravens’s LB’s vs. TE Daniel Owens: Houston’s tight end is one of the better in the NFL, he is second on the team with 21 receptions and leads receivers with 3 TD’s. The key will be jamming and throwing Owens off his routes. Last game vs. Oakland Owens had 7 receptions for 89 yards. The Ravens might go into the nickel package to put a safety on Owens.
FS ED Reed vs. QB Matt Schuab: Schaub has 9 TD’s and 5 interceptions on the season. He threw 2 last week against Oakland. The Texans QB is effective, but there might be some opportunities for the Ravens ball-hawk FS Ed Reed.
WR Torrey Smith/WR Anquan Boldin vs. CB Jonathan Joseph: The Texans landed a quality corner in the offseason and it has helped. Houston ranks 6th against the pass (208 yds per game). Joseph is familiar with the Ravens having gone up against them as a member of the Bengals. Torrey Smith has a new found confidence and has the ability to stretch the field. QB Joe Flacco has to get back to finding Anquan Boldin.
Ray Rice vs. Houston’s 3-4: The Texans are ranked 12th (105.8 yds. per game) against the run. They held Oakland’s Darren McFadden to 51 yards rushing last week. But they also gave up a lot of passing yards to McFadden out of the backfield. Ray Rice is the spark to this offense and he is dangerous out of the backfield. Look for Houston to force the issue and make QB Joe Flacco air it out. The key for the Ravens offense is to get the ball to Ray Rice early and often.
WHO MAKES THE HIGHLIGHT FILM:
Matt Jergensen: Joe Flacco
“Throughout his career he has rarely played poorly two weeks in a row. I think he has a big day against the Texans secondary.”
(Last week’s pick: Terrell Suggs)
Jonathan Scruggs: Ed Dickson
“With Mario Williams sidelined for the season, Flacco will need to rely on his TE’s to exploit the Houston defense. This all starts with Ed Dickson. He may have suffered from a nasty case of the drops against the Jets, but against the Texans, I think he rebounds quite nicely.”
(Last week’s pick: Haloti Ngata)
Gene Winner: Ed Reed
“Something tells me the “ball-hawk” Ed Reed will be sitting on a few routes this Sunday.”
(Last week’s pick: Haloti Ngata)
Ben Zinman: Joe Flacco
“Joe Flacco better known as ‘Mr. Inconsistency’ will have his day in the sun before the home crowd.”