In Week 6, the Baltimore Ravens beat the Houston Texans by a score of 29-14. Some of the faces are new to this rematch from earlier in the year but the outcome can be the same if the Ravens follow these three keys.
• Getting points on every drive
. In the first meeting against the Texans, the Ravens scored on 7 of 12 (58 percent) of their drives, while the Texans only scored on 2 of 12 (16 percent) of their drives. To expand on that, after the Texans' opening second half touchdown they went 0 for 5 the rest of the game and that was with Matt Schuab. This time the Ravens are playing T.J. Yates, a rookie quarterback. When you take a rookie quarterback into the Playoffs away from his home, consistently putting points up, whether it’s three or six it’s something that he will have to stare at. He will feel the pressure that he has to get some points on every drive and that might make him force the ball into some tighter windows than he normally would. When you’re consistently putting points on the board that also means you're sustaining drives, which also is going to make that rookie quarterback feel squeezed for time.
• Controlling the Texans' Studs
. When you think about the Texans who do you think about? Andre Johnson and Arian Foster, Johnson being one of the best wide receivers in the game and Foster one of the most complete backs that is a game-changer. When you are game planning against the Texans these two are the first ones that you’re going to see at the top of the white board when you come to your positional meetings on defense. In order for the Ravens to come away with a victory, they need to keep these two under 175 total yards. In the first meeting Foster had 102 total yards and Jacoby Jones, who was playing in place of Andre Johnson while he was out with a hamstring injury, had 76 yards on four catches and a touchdown, for a grand total of 178 yards between the No. 1 wide receiver and top running back. Game planning against the Texans should be fairly easy when it comes to containing Foster and Johnson. If you play bracket coverage over Johnson and make one of the other receivers beat you, which should be easier because they might be already without their second best receiver, Owen Daniels. Daniels has a hand injury and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to play this week, whether you think he is a legit option to catch the ball or not, you cannot deny his ability to catch the ball in traffic. Without Daniels being healthy that’s one less thing that the Ravens don’t have to prepare for. Playing brackets over Johnson and man everywhere else should eliminate any real passing game. When you play man and only have to dedicate four or five guys to your pass defense you can keep six or seven in the box every play, and by doing that you’re going to be able to contain Foster. The Ravens' defense is old, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed aren’t playing the way they were five years ago, but it’s the Playoffs. They had a week off and they both know now is the time for them to shake whatever it is that has been affecting their game. If both Lewis and Reed show up Sunday afternoon, Andre Johnson and Arian Foster will struggle to get 175 combined yards.
• Ray Rice, Ray Rice, Ray Rice
. This one is simple but for some odd reason the Ravens tend to forget who the best player on their roster is. It’s Ray Rice and it is not even close. When Rice has over 99 total yards the Ravens are 10-1. In games where he doesn’t break 99 yards the Ravens are 2-3. Now I don’t claim to be able to cure cancer but it seems to me like the Ravens' winning percentage goes way up when Ray Rice has over 99 total yards. Say what you will about the Texans' defense, but when you put a rookie quarterback on the road and against one of the best defenses in the league there will be more three-and-outs than there will be touchdowns more than likely, which means that this defense that looked rather worn down towards the end of the year is going to spend a lot of time on the field Sunday and that is a plus for Rice. If you are the Ravens the goal should be to control the game up front on both sides of the ball and win the time of possession along with the turnover battle. This probably means taking the ball out of Joe Flacco’s hands. You don’t need Flacco to win this game, all you need him to do is control the game and make easy throws. By feeding Ray Rice the ball, you are going to control the clock, keep your defense off the field and lower your chances for turnovers. If the Baltimore Ravens do these three things they should handle the Texans easily and be set to contend for the AFC crown the next week.