With Baltimore heading to Houston, Ravens fans have quite a lot to be excited about. Thad Lewis or Case Keenum will be starting for the Texans after the unfortunate news of Ryan Fitzpatrick out for the year with a broken leg. Ravens fans may catch a break as a couple swings in the AFC matchups this week may guarantee a Baltimore post-season birth. But let us instead focus on the game in Houston.
The big names for the Texans come to the forefront as MVP candidate J.J. Watt is looking towards squandering Baltimore's hopes of victory. A few other Texans stars hoping to secure a home win are Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, and DeAndre Hopkins.
First up, Arian Foster: The resurgence of Foster has been key for Houston as Foster only been held under 100 yards rushing four times this season. Of those four, one of those games Foster rushed for 99 yards. Foster is back after last year's injury bug hit him hard, and has now been vital to Texan victories. Baltimore hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 24 straight games. This will be one of the key matchups for Sunday. With the Ravens front seven, and whoever is starting under center for Houston, expect a very stacked box defense ready to take down number 23 of this offense.
I fully expect Watt, an MVP candidate, to attack full force against the stellar Ravens offensive line. Watt has done everything to push the Texans toward the postseason, from defensive and offensive scoring, and adding 16.5 sacks for the season. For goodness sake, his Pro Football Focus rank is 84.8 overall. The second best 3-4 defensive end is 33.1. Watt is attempting to become a one-man wrecking machine. This will be the most exciting matchup of the game. Watch as Marshal Yanda and Rick Wagner block Watt. I also have seen Watt line up on the other side and we'll watch him attempt to pass Kelechi Osemele and Eugene Monroe. If you need to watch a matchup for football, I promise you this will not be bland.
I know we all are gritting our teeth as this matchup won't be fun for the Baltimore fans. DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson must be looking at the completely depleted cornerback depth for the Ravens and hoping they receive an opportunity. Among the healthy corners on the Ravens right now are Antoine Cason, Rashaan Melvin, and recently signed Chris Greenwood. Even big fans of the NFL know only one of those names. Baltimore has to pray that the front seven preys on the Houston quarterback quickly.
PFF stats time!
- 18th in passing and 15th in pass blocking
- 12th in rushing and 7th in run blocking
- 25th against the run
- 5th in pass rush
- 13th in pass coverage
- 12th in overall offense and 15th in overall defense
- 9th in passing and 3rd in pass blocking
- 10th in rushing and 2nd in run blocking
- 5th against the run
- 1st in pass rush (WOOOO!)
- 23rd in pass coverage
- 2nd overall offense (WOOO!) and 3rd in overall defense (WOO!)
My take on these numbers: The Ravens are a secondary away from dominating. My goodness, this is exciting. To get back on track though, I'm more confident in this game for Baltimore than last week against the Jaguars. I expect the run to be snuffed out, the pass ineffective, and the offense to produce around 24 points.
- Stop Foster. Keep the streak of no 100 yard rushers alive and they'll be fine
- Contain Watt, and work keep Flacco upright
- Pass rush take down their QB, keep DeAndre and Andre from threatening the secondary.