There may not be another team more under the radar than the 3-1 Baltimore Ravens. They thrashed Pittsburgh, played poorly in their only loss on the road to the Titans, then destroyed the Rams, and embarrassed the Jets on national television.
From the looks of it Pittsburgh will at least be in the playoff picture as the season goes on, same goes for the Titans. The Rams are bad, and that’s why the Ravens went into St. Louis and came home with a 37-7 victory. The Jets offense has been awful this season and the Ravens took advantage. So far, so good.
It’s funny what a bye week will do for a team. After the dominating defensive performance against the Jets last Sunday night: the D forced four turnovers, held the Jets to 150 total yards, won 34-17 with only one offensive touchdown; the Ravens took the week off, rested up, and the league went on without them.
Now, the Ravens resume their Super Bowl check list at home against the beat-up Houston Texans (3-2). All of the Ravens know how important this game, and any game going forward is in terms of gaining momentum and confidence; just ask Terrelle Suggs:
“We can be special, but it all depends on where we go from here. We can’t take any steps back because that’s not how championship teams are built. Not in this league. You’ve got to make the momentum snowball.”
No better way to continue improving than facing off against a team struggling on defense and marred with injuries like the Houston Texans. A week after losing their best offensive player, WR Andre Johnson for a month due to a hamstring injury; the Texans lost their best defensive player and captain, LB Mario Williams for the season with a torn pectoral.
After losing at home to an emotional Oakland Raider team, the Texans will look to bounce back and catch the Ravens off-guard. Texans OB Matt Schaub is 11th in the league in passing yards per game, but it was his late interception that cost them the game last week.
It’s the Texans 5th ranked running game that the 2nd ranked Ravens rush defense will look to contain. With starter Arian Foster back healthy and backup Ben Tate capable of carrying the load, the Texans are 5th in the league in rushing and must run the ball well to be successful. The onus will be on Ray Lewis and his linebacker corps and the steadily improving defensive line led by Haloti Ngata to stop the run and make Houston one-dimensional.
3 things to watch:
Ravens run D vs. Texans run O: This will be the deciding factor in the game. If the Texans run schemes work against the stout Ravens D, they’ll give the birds problems.
Joe Flacco vs. Texans 6th ranked pass D: Joe looked bad against the Jets: 10/31, 163 yards, and an INT. The Jets D isn’t bad, but Flacco is once again showing that inconsistency that’s cost the Ravens games in the past.
Holes to fill for the Texans vs. the Ravens taking advantage: Without Andre Johnson on offense and Mario Williams on defense the Texans are hurting. Will Jacoby Jones and the other receivers step up? Can rookie LB Brooks Reed fill in for Mario? Or will the Ravens take advantage of known weaknesses?
Ravens 35-Texans 27
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.