The Baltimore Ravens are 5-0 against the Houston Texans. Today, they look to make it 6-0 as the Texans come to Baltimore and enter a fired up home crowd. Here are my three keys for the Ravens to beat the Texans…
1. Limit Big Plays
The Texans are stacked with offensive weapons. The most obvious one is wide receiver Andre Johnson. Johnson is arguably the best receiver in the NFL. He constantly creates mismatches and will be tough to cover. I expect the Ravens to double cover him all day. They’ll probably press him at the line and put a safety over top. Even then, it will be hard for the Ravens to stop Andre Johnson. Additionally, speedster Jacoby Jones is great at taking the top off the defense and beat Ed Reed for a touchdown in their first matchup this season.
Johnson is just a small piece of the puzzle. Arian Foster was the leagues leading rusher last year and is still one of the league’s best. Undrafted out of college, Foster runs with passion and is willing to fight for every yard. He’s has great vision and loves to cut it back when the middle gets clogged up. The Ravens will have to play disciplined football and prevent Foster from cutting back if they want to stop the ground game. His dismal 46 yards in the first matchup still lingers in Foster’s mind and he has stated that he will not be stopped again.
2. Start Fast
Last year, the Ravens biggest problem was finishing games. They would go up by double digits but then blow leads in the forth quarter. They allowed it to happen on Monday Night Football against the Texans but were bailed out by a Josh Wilson pick six. This problem lead to their demise in the playoffs but it seems as if they’ve fixed that problems this year. Well, kinda. The Ravens have no problem finishing games now but they do have a problem getting the lead in the first place. When the Ravens fall behind early, they seem to fall apart as evidenced in their four losses this year. For the Ravens to win today, they must start fast and force the Texans to become one dimensional. Putting the ball in T.J. Yates hands is the best case scenario for the Ravens. The rookie quarterback should have trouble deciphering Chuck Pagano’s complex blitzing schemes and will spend more time on his back, looking up at the sky, than in the pocket, looking down field.
3. Stick To Your Guns
While it’s tempting for the Ravens to start off the playoffs at home with a bang, they must do what got them there. Though Joe Flacco wants to prove that he’s an elite quarterback, he hasn’t won any games throwing the ball 50+ times. Ray Rice is your best offensive player, so use him. The time you deviate from your game plan is when things start to go wrong. Both the Ravens and Joe Flacco don’t need to prove anything. All they have to do is win. Their best chance of doing that is utilizing Ray Rice.