Baltimore Beatdown traded five questions with the SB blogger on the Houston Texans at Battle Red Blog. Their answers to my questions will post sometime tomorrow. Here are their questions to me and my answers (in bold) about the Monday Night Football match-up between the two teams:
1. Imagine that you've just been hired by the Texans. Gary Kubiak asks you to tell him the three (3) areas/players/things he should focus Houston's attack on in Monday night's game. Assume with me that you're not a double-agent and actually intend to do right by your new employer. How do you answer Kubes' question?
I would run the ball off tackle as the Ravens have not been nearly as stingy against the run and Arian Foster should have some decent chances. Also, I would get the tight end open over the middle against the linebackers who have had trouble covering in space. Finally, I would pick on either CB Lardarius Webb or Fabian Washington as they are not tackling well and could give up the big play. But remember to keep an eye open for where Ed Reed is lined up!
2. With Todd Heap looking to be on the sidelines on Monday night, what should Houston fans expect to see out of Ed Dickson and/or Dennis Pitta? How will the increased playing time of the two rookie TEs affect the Baltimore offense--less looks to the TE in the passing game, more two-TE sets, etc.?
Dickson looked a bit confused and tentative last week but now has had a full week of reps with the first team. He has great speed and solid hands and could be match-up nightmares for the Texans. Pitta has assumed more of a backup role usually blocking but is mature for a rookie. Expect more TE sets as you said but also without Heap, look for more three-wideout sets as well.
3. Ray Rice appears to be markedly off pace this year compared to the havoc he wreaked in '09. What do you attribute the change to?
Rice's lack of production can be viewed two ways. First of all, the team is throwing the ball a lot more than it did last year and second, the offensive line, thought to be a strength of the team, has not performed nearly as well as it did last season. Look for team to try to get him more touches on Monday night.
4. You know it. I know it. The American people know it. <a href="http://www.battleredblog.com/2010/12/7/1862640/defensive-meltdown-watch-2010">Houston's pass defense is an affront to the deity of your choice</a>. Indeed, it's become a running joke over at BRB, with many fans going so far to call it the "efense," because there is no "D." When throwing the ball, what do the Ravens like to do? There is no wrong answer here, as I wholeheartedly believe that Flacco & Co. will be able to do what they want whenever they want.
Hopefully, the Ravens will make an extra effort to showcase Anquan Boldin Monday night. Flacco still loves to go to Derrick Mason as a sure thing and his check-down insurance policy is always Ray Rice. Here's crossing our fingers as fans that the Ravens will "want" to put points on the board instead of just trying to "protect" a lead if they get one.
5. Put Your Name On It: The final score of Thursday night's game will be Ravens 34, Texans 17. At the end of the regular season, Baltimore's record will stand at 11-5, and the Ravens will appear in 2 playoff games.