Week 6: Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens
Sunday October 16, 2011 4:05 PM
Line: Ravens -8 O/U 45
Each and every week this season, the Ravens have found a new way to win (or lose). In week one the team put together a complete performance in dismantling the Steelers. In week two it was a complete disappointment against the Titans. In week three the offense carried the load against the Rams, and in week four it was the defense crushing the Jets. Who knows which team will come out after the bye week, but rest assured, it will be entertaining. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s keys to the game.
Contain Arian Foster
Due in large part to Andre Johnson‘s injury, the Texans absolutely must get their running game going or else this is going to be a blowout. Without Foster moving the rock effectively, there will be no passing game to speak of. For the Ravens, this means getting Foster contained and keeping him to one or two yard carries at best. Keep him on the ground and this will be a much easier contest to manage.
Get after Matt Schaub
If step one in this game is containing Arian Foster, then step two is assuredly getting after Matt Schaub. Although he can be a lethally efficient quarterback when given the time to throw the ball, if you get in his face and hurry him, he’s prone to mistakes and will throw turnovers. Terrell Suggs, Jarrett Johnson, Haloti Ngata and Paul Kruger have got to put as much pressure on Schaub as they can. Beat him early and the game will fall apart. Schaub in many ways reminds me of Mark Sanchez, the game plan for him should be similar.
Dictate the Clock
Often this season, you‘ve seen the Ravens come out ultra aggressive against opposing defenses, only to cost themselves a great bit of footing in the war for clock management. I like what Cam Cameron is trying to build with this team, but at the same time, the battle is won by controlling all aspects of the game. That includes the clock. Run the ball to set up the pass and smother this team to death. It’s much easier than gun slinging it out with a potent offense.
Work the Field
With Mario Williams out for the season, you have to imagine the middle of the field will be much more susceptible to the intermediate throw. Good teams exploit the weakness of their opponents by recognizing vulnerabilities. Flacco and Cameron must look to the middle of the field and extend plays with their TE‘s and slot receivers. If he’s not covered by Johnathan Joseph, this should be the kind of game where you look for Anquan Boldin early and often. The Texans might anticipate this play since Lee Evans is likely out, but that doesn‘t mean they still shouldn’t try to get it done..
The Ravens have never lost coming off the bye week under John Harbaugh. More than that they‘re 9-1 since 2000. Couple that with the fact that they have the second best home record over the last decade, and you have to think that focus should not be a problem. That said, the Ravens have a history of let downs after big games, and the game against the Jets surely was a big game. The team will need to stay poised and focused if they’re going to put this Texans team away
Jonathon Scruggs (3-1)
The last time the Ravens faced the Texans they blew a big fourth quarter lead and needed overtime to pull off the miracle. This year I don’t expect the same drama but I do expect a solid contest. The Texans are all sorts of a matchup problem for the Ravens, so this should be a good one.
Ravens 27 — Texans 24
Matt Jergensen (2-2)
The Texas should pose a stiffer test than some people think even with Houston’s top offensive (Andre Johnson) and defensive (Mario Williams) players expected to be out. I still like the fact that the Ravens defense which has been on a roll getting pressure and stopping the run will continue to play well at home. I also expect a bounce back game from Joe Flacco this week. Add it all up to another Ravens win.
Ravens 31 – Texans 24
Gene Winner (3-1)
The Ravens are home after a ‘bye’ and should come out fired up. Both teams have some key injuries, but the fact Texans receiver Andre Johnson is out means Chuck Pagano can be super aggressive. The Texans are no push over and it could be close heading into the fouth quarter.
Ravens 24 – Texans 20
Ben Zinman (1-0)
Ravens 31 — Texans 17