The Ravens and Texans will cap off Week 12 as the two square off under the lights in Baltimore tonight. These are two teams heading in opposite directions. The Texans are faltering after losing Deshaun Watson, while the Ravens are trying to fight for a playoff spot. Here are the storylines to follow in tonight’s game.
Can the Ravens keep pace in the playoff race?
The Ravens really could have used a Kansas City win to knock the Bills down a little further in the push for the playoffs. Instead, Buffalo went into Arrowhead and came out with a victory. The win allowed the Bills to improve to 6-5, and temporarily hop the Ravens into the six seed. A Ravens win against Houston would vault the Ravens back over the Bills though. However, the Bills win keeps them in the thick of the competition for the spot, making the Ravens’ job a bit tougher.
The AFC also now features a number of teams, three to be exact, at 5-6 and within striking distance of a playoff spot. The Chargers have won five of their last seven, and as the Chiefs fall apart, the Ravens now have more serious contenders for the playoff spot to worry about.
A win on Monday night keeps the Ravens in playoff position, but a loss in a game Baltimore is expected to win, let along a Conference game, could do major damage.
Will the passing game show life?
The Texans rush defense is still sixth in the NFL despite J.J. Watt being out. However, the Texans secondary has really struggled this year, and find themselves as the NFL’s fifth worst team against the pass. The Ravens, on the other hand, are dead last in passing offense.
Something has to give.
If the Texans neutralize Alex Collins, then the Ravens must find success throwing the ball, or they could be in big trouble. Even with Tom Savage playing quarterback, it’s unfair to expect the defense to put forth another superhuman effort to save the offense. Marty Mornhinweg, Joe Flacco and the offense must take advantage of this matchup, and hopefully find something that clicks to use in future games.
Will Breshad Perriman play?
The Ravens benched Breshad Perriman last week against the Packers due to how poorly he has been playing. It was reported then by Ian Rapoport that Perriman’s benching would be a week to week decision.
The Ravens did win by 23 on the road against the Packers, but to say the offense looked better without Perriman would be false.
If Perriman plays, then he has what is likely is final chance to shed the bust label. There is no word yet on what the Ravens plan to do with Perriman, but playing him seems to make the most sense. Sometimes it just takes time, in this case, a lot of time. The Ravens are going to give their former first round pick another chance, the question is when, and if he can finally figure it out. Maybe the benching fueled the UCF product, one can only hope.
The Texans have a -5 turnover differential. They have the fifth most interceptions thrown this year with 11. Their eight lost fumbles are the sixth most in the NFL.
The Ravens defense has thrived this year on taking the ball away, and the defense will get another great opportunity tonight against another backup quarterback. The Ravens defense may have to give a spectacular effort if the offense fails to show up, and it may be able to force the turnovers it needs to keep the Ravens in the game. If the Ravens defense is able to take advantage of a turnover prone Texans team, another big night at home in primetime could be in store.