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Ravens vs. Texans: 5 keys to victory

Houston Texans v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Ravens cruised through Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season with a 38-6 victory over the Browns. They now travel to Houston to face the Texans, who are looking to rebound after an embarrassing loss to the Chiefs. Baltimore beat Houston in a 41-7 bludgeoning in 2019. Here are five keys for the Ravens to emerge victorious yet again in Sunday’s rematch:

Make Deshaun Watson hold the ball

Quarterback Deshaun Watson faced constant pressure against Kansas City — something the young QB has dealt with for the entirety of his career. 2019 first-round pick Tytus Howard was the biggest culprit on the offensive line at right tackle, earning a 49.0 pass-blocking grade from PFF.

Baltimore sacked Watson six times in their last meeting, largely due to the pass coverage forcing him to hold the ball longer. Since then, the Ravens have added All-Pro defensive end Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe to the defensive line while also getting back nickelback Tavon Young. Watson also lost his favorite target in All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins when he was traded to the Cardinals. Baltimore’s secondary shouldn’t have much of an issue dealing with Will Fuller V, Brandon Cooks, and Randall Cobb.

Contain Watson on scrambles

If the Ravens are successful in making Watson hold on to the ball longer, then they will also have to be prepared for Watson’s scrambling ability if he breaks the pocket. Watson is one of the league’s most dangerous runners at his position, but Baltimore’s linebackers have the speed to limit the damage that Watson can do with his legs, especially first-round pick Patrick Queen.

Pound the rock

The Texans were destroyed on the ground by the Chiefs as rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for 138 yards and one touchdown in his first start. The Ravens struggled to run the ball in Week 1 compared to their usual dominance on the ground. This is a perfect game for Baltimore to get back to doing what they do best, especially considering that they rushed for a whopping 256 yards the last time they played Houston. Both Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins could see much bigger roles this week.

Eliminate J.J. Watt

Although he is nowhere near the dominant player that he once was, DE J.J. Watt is still a force to be reckoned with. The Ravens offensive line struggled at times in their first game without All-Pro right guard Marshal Yanda. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman will have to make sure that Watt doesn’t wreck the game, so expect him to be double-teamed on most passing plays.

Attack the secondary

Perhaps the weakest link of the Texans is the secondary, specifically at cornerback with players such as Bradley Roby, Vernon Hargreaves III, and Lonnie Johnson Jr. QB Lamar Jackson was unstoppable in the passing game last Sunday as he spread the ball around all over the field. WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown should be in for another big day this week.