The Ravens face off Saturday versus the Houston Texans in the first game of the divisional weekend. After the Texans blew the doors off the Cleveland Browns, and with C.J. Stroud looking like one of the top quarterbacks in the AFC, it will take some big performances for the Ravens to come out on top.
Who can we look towards to have a big game and help the Ravens advance to the conference championship round?
Odell Beckham Jr.
This is what Beckham was signed for, playoff football. This is why the Ravens saved Beckham, limiting reps, holding him out of games at times. The Ravens surely envision Beckham recapturing his run with the Rams that helped lead them to the Super Bowl in the 2021-2022 season. The same run that had Beckham looking like a possible Super Bowl MVP before getting hurt.
After a good rookie season, Zay Flowers will sure get attention from top corners, as will Rashod Bateman though not as frequently. With the emergence of Texans top cornerback Derek Stingley, whenever Beckham isn’t covered by him, he will need to make the most of those moments.
Clowney has had a resurgence in his career. A late training camp signing, Clowney has been a force for the Ravens off the edge, leading that group with a career-high 9.5 sacks. He was top-15 among the entire NFL in total pressures.
The Texans gave up zero sacks vs the touted Browns front seven, with Myles Garrett and Za’Darius Smith combining for only four hurries. Clowney lining up over the right tackle, and not Laremy Tunsil, will have to make the most of his opportunities to generate pressure and impact C.J. Stroud.
Likely was a massive player for the Ravens during the back half of the season. With Mark Andrews out, Likely stepped up, seizing the role and helping secure wins. Now heading into the playoffs with Isaiah Likley hot, Mark Andrews has been designated to return. Even if Andrews returns versus Houston, he’ll be nowhere near 100% and probably have limited snaps.
Likely will need to play a massive role. The little success the Browns had on offense came with their two tight ends in David Njoku and Harrison Bryant. The Ravens would do well to the same with all their tight ends, especially Likely.
C.J. Stroud has been an absolute animal during his rookie year. Up for the Offensive Rookie of the Year, Stroud hasn’t looked like a rookie much this season and has been pushing the ball downfield. Against the Browns, Stroud had three throws of 20-plus yards down the field.
Though he’s had an up and down season, playing through injury and with practically one arm, this is a time for Williams to show why the Ravens paid him two offseasons ago and avenge the fact he was on the receiving end of the Minneapolis Miracle. With Kyle Hamilton and Arthur Maulet returning, WIlliams will be free to do what he does best and patrol the back end, limiting big plays. Maybe he can grab an interception or two while he’s had it.
Ronnie Stanley and Morgan Moses
The tackles have been by far the weakest part of the Ravens offense this season. Both have allowed significant pressure this season. The Ravens have helped them out by rotating both throughout the games to keep them fresh and keep pass rushers off balance with different looks. By supplementing Patrick Mekari at left tackle and Daniel Faalele at right, it’s helped the others play better.
Going against rookie sensation Will Anderson Jr. and Jonathan Greenard, they will have their work cut out for them as the duo combined for 19.5 sacks this season. If the tackles can help keep Lamar clean, it will go a long way toward coming out with a win.