FanPost

Know Your Enemy: What to Expect from Houston


<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG /> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]-->

<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves /> <w:TrackFormatting /> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF /> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>X-NONE</w:LidThemeAsian> <w:LidThemeComplexScript>X-NONE</w:LidThemeComplexScript> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> <w:SplitPgBreakAndParaMark /> <w:DontVertAlignCellWithSp /> <w:DontBreakConstrainedForcedTables /> <w:DontVertAlignInTxbx /> <w:Word11KerningPairs /> <w:CachedColBalance /> </w:Compatibility> <w:DoNotOptimizeForBrowser /> <m:mathPr> <m:mathFont m:val="Cambria Math" /> <m:brkBin m:val="before" /> <m:brkBinSub m:val="--" /> <m:smallFrac m:val="off" /> <m:dispDef /> <m:lMargin m:val="0" /> <m:rMargin m:val="0" /> <m:defJc m:val="centerGroup" /> <m:wrapIndent m:val="1440" /> <m:intLim m:val="subSup" /> <m:naryLim m:val="undOvr" /> </m:mathPr></w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" DefUnhideWhenUsed="true" DefSemiHidden="true" DefQFormat="false" DefPriority="99" LatentStyleCount="267"> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="0" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Normal" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="heading 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 7" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 8" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="9" QFormat="true" Name="heading 9" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 7" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 8" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="toc 9" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="35" QFormat="true" Name="caption" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="10" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Title" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" Name="Default Paragraph Font" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="22" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Strong" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="20" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="59" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Table Grid" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Placeholder Text" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Revision" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="34" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="29" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Quote" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="30" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Shading Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Light Grid Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Dark List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful List Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" SemiHidden="false" UnhideWhenUsed="false" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" Name="Bibliography" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" /> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Cambria","serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} </style> <![endif]-->

Week 7 Bal @ Hou

We’re going to start with the positive this week. After Dan presented his notes on the Houston game tape and we both reviewed stats neither of us was feeling too great. But here is the good, before the bad:

1. Baltimore plays very tough against elite opponents; we have a history of exceeding peoples’ expectations in big games. Take week one at Pittsburgh last year, a 35-7 blowout that few people saw coming, especially after losing twice to them the year before (including that heartbreaking, divisional round playoff loss at Heinz Field). Or look at last year’s AFC Championship game in New England. Flawless at home, the Ravens were a 50-50 road team, but played tough at Foxborough in the biggest game of the season. Our history of playing well against elite opponents stretches at least back to our Superbowl season. In the playoffs that year, we played three tough opponents—including at Steve McNair’s Titans and at Rich Gannon’s Raiders—to complete an improbable run to the Superbowl.

2. Despite injuries, we have a veteran team and a savvy coach. We know that Harbaugh, Flacco, Rice, Reed, Birk, et al. will not look back despite numerous injuries on defense. The team will prepare as it always does, and our coaches should keep us in the game even if we are outmanned.

3. We finally have an offense that can put points on the board. Let’s face it: we’ve won our last two games despite giving up nearly 450 yards rushing. This is not the Baltimore method we’ve all grown accustomed to, but it is working. Were our defense playing lights out all season, the injuries to Webb and Lewis and, to a lesser extent, Reed and Ngata, would be a crushing blow. But our defense has shown obvious flaws when healthy. Sure, we are going to take a hit—but we are now built to be an offense-first team, which is what we will need on Sunday.

So there is the good. Now, it’s time to turn to the tape. Dan looked at Houston’s games against both the Jets and Packers. Here is what we concluded:

This is a run-first offense.

The Houston offense is built on using the run to open up (mostly) short passing routes. They will occasionally take a shot downfield (see Owen Daniels’ opening drive TD against the Jets) but this team likes to be conservative. This approach can be a problem for some teams but Houston is very good at what they do. They are extremely good at running the football and are probably the best zone-block rushing attack in the league. There is no doubt that Houston expects success in this facet of the game after watching the Ravens play zone-run schemes poorly over the past two weeks.

The offense tends to run out of the Ace set (two TE, two WR, and one RB). They are committed to their rushing attack with Foster and Tate—they almost always run on first down, even when facing eight men in the box. After establishing the run Houston uses a lot of play- or run-action. In particular, they like to run the boot action behind a zone run blocking scheme (naked boot or "swap boot").

Arian Foster is a beast.

Foster is a very impressive back. He showed incredible lateral agility against both the Packers and Jets and is able to avoid tackles in the backfield. This could be bad for the Ravens, who missed 14 tackles in the game against Dallas. Foster is also a patient runner, and despite his stature (6’1’’, 228lbs), he can fit through very small holes. He is also very fast—against the Jets he ripped one run for 46 yards and was only caught by the fastest defensive backs. Foster has found a good deal of career success against the Ravens as well (282y off of 62 carries in three games).

Schaub, on the other hand…

…looked less impressive than we expected. He gets jittery when his first reads are taken away and often creates his own pressure. When this happens he tends to rush and/or short arm his throws, which hurts his already so-so accuracy. Schaub also does not have a very strong arm. He clearly prefers slants and crossing routes to the point that he will force dangerous throws. This could be a product of his lacking arm strength or a lack of confidence in his arm strength. Additionally, he is poor at deep throws and this hurts his ability to come back from a large deficit. To put this in perspective, Schaub has attempted 62 passes in the past two games. Fifteen of these attempts were beyond 10y in the air and only 5 of these were completions. If the Ravens can run up the score early, they may be able to hold off the Texans offense just long enough to win the game. Finally, Schaub will force the ball out when pressure in his face, creating dangerous throws that often float for too long. If the Ravens can establish some pressure against Houston, they may get an interception or two.

The O-line has weaknesses.

Granted, many of their issues against Green Bay were with Clay Matthews. He is a freakish athlete and few teams can completely contain him, so we will give them a bit of a pass (despite Matthews’ huge game last week). Regardless, the Houston line showed weakness against A-gap and edge rushes. If the Ravens are going to find a pass-rushing advantage it will likely be here.

In the game against GB, Owen Daniels struggled both against the pass rush and in zone run blocking. He is clearly a better receiver than a blocker. Both guards also showed moments of weakness against GB. The RG, Antoine Caldwell, gave up a sack, and LG Wade Smith had some difficulty run blocking.

Unfortunately, we also saw a fair number of cut blocks on backside run defenders. This might be bad for Ngata, who is already dealing with an MCL sprain.

We must contain J.J. Watt to win this game.

The Texans have a stout defense with many good players, but their best weapon is undoubtedly J.J. Watt. He is having an almost incomprehensible year so far and is on pace for 25 sacks and 21 passes defended. He was effective rushing the passer all game long against both New York and Green Bay. He can penetrate any gap on the offensive line, cannot be blocked by a single lineman, and is extremely good at slowing his rush and batting down passes. After the Jets game he screamed, "You can’t try to throw it over my head." We’re inclined to agree.

Defending the run.

In general, the Houston D is strong against the run. They are good at maintaining their gap assignments and their linebackers quickly fill the running lanes. They don’t miss many tackles. The WILL, Connor Barwin, looked particularly strong in run defense. The defensive line is good at collapsing the inside on running plays. They will be a handful for the interior of our line, particularly Bobbie Williams.

The passing game.

We noticed a lot of movement at the LOS. Like Baltimore has in the past, this Texans defense will change their alignment all the way until the snap. In general, though, they run a lot of four man fronts, and there doesn’t seem to be a set front that they use. This seemed odd since their base defense is a 3-4 but especially against the Packers, they use a lot of Dime personnel from the 4-2-5 look. They occasionally run a wide 9, which gave Baltimore fits against Philadelphia. There’s a good chance that Houston will use that to their advantage.

In the secondary, Houston ran press man most of the time, particularly when bringing pressure. Unless they are facing four or five receivers, Houston likes to keep seven and eight men in the box, including, at different times, both SS Danieal Manning and FS Glover Quin. When Quin was in the box against GB, he was typically playing man-to-man against the TE, but he also blitzed the A-gap (even when the QB was in the shotgun). Their corners are generally strong in man coverage, although GB beat Jonathon Joseph for a touchdown on a go route (although there are rumors that he has been playing hurt during the past game or two). We would like to see Baltimore try to get Torrey Smith a few deep looks in similar situations.

Against the Jets, the Texans showed three types of pressure: DB blitzes from the edge, linebacker stunts, and delayed LB blitzes. The linebackers blitzed often on passing downs. Flacco is going to need to get the ball out quickly or else he will take too many sacks. Additionally, an astute commenter asked us last week if Dallas would "snatch blitz" in order to keep Ray Rice in pass protection where he has struggled. Dallas did this successfully and we expect Houston to do this as well. Reducing Rice’s impact on the game will be a key for Houston and this may be one way to accomplish this.

We found that, most of the time, the threatening blitzers actually blitz; very rarely does a LB or safety bail out of their blitz look. This could be an advantage for Flacco, but he cannot get too comfortable—he must remain disciplined with hot reads, especially to man-beater routes over the middle. A surprise LB dropping from his blitz look into coverage could result in an easy interception.

In Conclusion

This is going to be a tough football game (understatement of the year?). The Ravens clearly cannot stop the run and now, without Webb, will struggle to stop the pass as well. Jimmy smith and Cary Williams are not good cover corners (ranked 75th and 91st, according to ProFootballFocus). The front seven is in flux with the loss of Ray Lewis and now must face one of the best rushing attacks in the league. The Ravens also have to contend with J.J. Watt, who is on absolute fire. It seems like a perfect storm, but we think the Ravens will keep it respectable. Vegas agrees—they have the Texans favored by just less than a touchdown, a respectable amount given the situation. Hopefully Vegas isn’t all-knowing when it comes to the Ravens since Baltimore lost the only other game this season when they were the underdog.

If the Ravens can put points on the board, particularly in the first half, they have a chance to win. Playing from way behind will be tough given how effective the Texans pass rush can be. And while the running game may not have a huge day, if Flacco can get the ball out quickly and avoid turnovers and Smith and Jones can get behind the defense a few times, there should be opportunities to score.

Writers:

Chris Worthington (Follow on Twitter @C_Dubs87)

Dan Bryden (Follow on Twitter @PlainMilksFine)

We love the feedback ask/critique away!

The opinions posted here are those of the administrator of this blog and his loyal readers. They are in no way official comments from the team, and should not be misconstued as such, even though he thinks he could do just as well or even a better job!

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Baltimore Beat Down

You must be a member of Baltimore Beat Down to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Baltimore Beat Down. You should read them.

Join Baltimore Beat Down

You must be a member of Baltimore Beat Down to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Baltimore Beat Down. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker