Ravens at Texans Preview

Sports and Bets — December 21, 2014 at 1:42 am by

Today, the Ravens (9-5) are battling the Texans (7-7) in the Gary Kubiak Revenge Bowl. The Texans are virtually eliminated from the postseason, and are starting a fourth-string quarterback. Should be a blowout win for the Ravens, right? Not so fast, my friend. The Texans have the 4th best rushing attack in football and the 7th best scoring defense. This game has the makings of a slobberknocker that comes down to the wire. Where’s Josh Wilson when you need him!?

2014 Stats (per game)
Points – Baltimore: 26.9, Houston: 23.1
Points Allowed – Baltimore: 19.1, Houston: 19.8
Passing Yards – Baltimore: 239.4, Houston: 209.1
Rushing Yards – Baltimore: 132.6, Houston: 136.8
Passing Yards Allowed – Baltimore: 259.9, Houston: 257.1
Rushing Yards Allowed – Baltimore: 84.3, Houston: 109.1
Turnover Differential – Baltimore: 0.14, Houston: 0.86

Ravens Injury Report
DL Chris Canty – Questionable (Ankle)
DB Anthony Levine – Probable (Ankle)

Texans Injury Report
TE Garrett Graham – Out (Ankle)
ILB Mike Mohamed – Out (Concussion)
QB Tom Savage – Out (Knee)
G Xavier Su’a-Filo – Out (Back)
WR DeAndre Hopkins – Questionable (Ankle)

Ravens’ Offense vs. Texans’ Defense
With Case Keenum expected to make the start for Houston, it’s imperative that the Ravens’ offense doesn’t give Houston any easy points via turnovers. The Ravens have only turned the ball over 17 times on the season, which is tied for 8th in the league. While the Ravens have been very good at limiting turnovers, the Texans have done a phenomenal job of ball-hawking. The Texans have forced a league-leading 31 turnovers, with MVP candidate J.J. Watt leading their destructive bunch. This season, Watt has recorded 64 tackles, 16.5 sacks, an INT, 3 FF, 5 FR, and a defensive TD. He also keeps it refreshingly simple when it comes to boasting.

To keep Watt from teeing off on Joe Flacco, the Ravens will need a strong bounce back effort from their rushing attack to keep them out of frequent 2nd and 3rd and longs. The Ravens’ run game faltered last week against the Jags, racking up only 93 yards on 26 carries. If their offensive line and Justin Forsett can get back to rolling up chunks of yards, it’ll do wonders for the Ravens’ chances of emerging victorious.

As great as Watt is, Houston only has 31 sacks on the year, which is tied for 22nd in the league. And if the Ravens are able to keep Flacco upright, he should be able to take advantage of the Texans’ 26th ranked pass defense. Flacco has really been playing well as of late, too. Over his first eight games, Flacco had a 90.6 passer rating with 14 TDs to 7 INTs. Over his last six games, Flacco has had a 101.0 passer rating with 9 TDs to 2 INTs, while adding 2 rushing TDs.


Ravens’ Defense vs. Texans’ Offense
It looks like Andre Johnson is going to return to action after missing last week’s game with a concussion, while DeAndre Hopkins is going to be a game-time decision with an ankle injury. No matter who’s lining up at receiver, the Texans are going to want to pound the absolute hell out of the rock with Keenum under center. Keenum went undrafted in 2012, and he has eight career starts under his belt. Keenum made those eight starts for the Texans last year, and he went 0-8 while throwing for 1,760 yards, 9 TDs, and 6 INTs. On paper, he doesn’t seem like the type of quarterback that is capable of exploiting the Ravens’ horrendous secondary if the Ravens are able to bring consistent pressure and stop the run. I love the Ravens’ odds to frequently harass Keenum, as their 45 sacks are good for 3rd most in the league. The NFL’s leading sack duo of Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil has been nothing short of dominant as of late. Over their last five games, Suggs has 7.5 sacks and Dumervil has 9.0 sacks. Unfortunately for his teammates’ ear drums, Suggs’ singing is nowhere near his pass-rushing prowess.

I am concerned about the Ravens’ ability to stop Arian Foster, though. Foster is 6th in the league with 1,127 rushing yards, despite missing three games due to injury. Surprisingly, the Ravens have allowed 72.5 rushing yards in their two games without Haloti Ngata, and 86.3 rushing yards in their 14 games with him (Downing). No disrespect to Lamar Miller or Toby Gerhart, but they are nowhere near the caliber of Foster. Foster will be the first top tier back that the Ravens will face since Ngata’s suspension, and their performance against him will be a pivotal matchup to watch.

Rapid Fire Facts
• Including the postseason, the Ravens have gone 7-1 against Houston.
• The Ravens’ new long snapper, Patrick Scales, is their third of the season, and he’s never snapped in a regular season game before. Sheesh.
• The Ravens have gone 24 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. This streak dates back to October 13, 2013 when Eddie Lacy ran for 120 yards against them (Downing).
• Flacco’s total quarterback rating of 74.3 is the 5th best in football.

Let’s go Ravens!

cover pic: Crave The Auto 

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