Playoff Keys to the Game: Houston @ Baltimore

Divisional Playoffs: Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens

Sunday January 15, 2012 1:05 PM

Line: Ravens -8 O/U 36

It’s here constant reader. No more waiting. The day has come. The time is now. It’s playoffs football in Baltimore and the atmosphere is absolutely explosive. Each hard fought emotional victory helped build to this game, and now the Ravens get to host an opponent in the divisional round for the first time since 2006. Will they rise to the occasion and march on to the AFC Championship, or will rust lead to a crushing defeat? Let’s find out. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s keys to the game. Keys to the Game

Contain Arian Foster/Ben Tate

Due to various injuries throughout the season, the Texans absolutely must get their running game going or else this is going to be a blowout. Without Foster/Tate moving the rock effectively, the Texan passing attack will be exponentially handicapped. For the Ravens, this means getting Foster/Tate contained and keeping them to one or two yard carries at best. They’ll do this by sealing off the edges and forcing the runs to the inside only.

Get after T.J. Yates

Look, let’s not make any bones about it. I know stats don’t mean everything, but the Ravens have only once, damn Roethlisberger, lost to a rookie quarterback. No other team in the NFL has been as effective against young QB’s as the Baltimore Ravens. The major key to getting this game in the win column is to straight antagonize T.J. Yates. Push him around, make him frustrated, getting him to make mistakes. Do it and the Ravens coast.

Dictate the Clock

Often this season, you‘ve seen the Ravens come out ultra aggressive against opposing defenses, only to cost themselves a great bit of footing in the war for clock management. I like what Cam Cameron is trying to build with this team, but at the same time, the battle is won by controlling all aspects of the game. That includes the clock. Run the ball to set up the pass and smother this team to death. It’s much easier than gun slinging it out with a potent offense.

Hammer, the Line, Then Hammer it Again

Keep running the ball at the Texans run defense and it will eventually fall apart. Although it might take some grinding at first, the Ravens need to just keep hammering, and hammering, and hammering away with Ray Rice and Ricky Williams running behind Vonta Leach. The running game is crucial to this matchup, so the Ravens must set the tone and take advantage of a tired and battered defensive line.

Stay Focused

The Ravens have never lost coming off the bye week under John Harbaugh. More than that they‘re 10-1 since 2000. Couple that with the fact that they have the second best home record over the last decade, and you have to think that focus should not be a problem. The team will need to stay poised and focused if they’re going to put this Texans team away for the second time.


Ravens Gab Predictions

Jonathon Scruggs (11-5)

The Texans are a better team than when we last saw them, but they’re coming into Baltimore against a rested team and without their QB. That’s not a recipe for success, it’s just not. The Ravens take care of business and move on.

Ravens 27 — Texans 16

Matt Jergensen (11-5)

Could the Ravens lose this week? Of course, it’s the playoffs. But there are too many advantages for them to squander heading into this matchup. The Texans game plan is easy enough to figure out. The Ravens must contain Foster and Tate and get T.J. Yates into Third and Long situations. Meanwhile the Ravens offense, which has been run heavy over the past few weeks I think should have more balance this time around. The Texans were very aggressive last time these two met and Flacco hit some for some big gains. As long as the Ravens stay away from turnovers they will ride the momentum of what will be a raucous crowd to the next round.

Ravens 24 – Texans 13

Gene Winner (12-4)

Everything is set up well for the Ravens this weekend – the bye, the home game and key starters getting healthy.  Houston is no push over, in fact they are really similar to the Ravens with a strong defense and exceptional run game. Ray Rice must get his carries, but the the difference will be that the Ravens will have the edge at the quarterback position this weekend. Flacco usually plays well at home and Houston’s quarterback rookie T.J. Yates will be under pressure from the Ravens defense.

Ravens 27 – Texans 13

Ben Zinman

The Ravens defense has a thing for young and inexperienced quarterbacks. They thrive on their inability to identify where the blitzes are coming from. They are able to force them into making decisions before they want to along with inaccurate throws which soon lead to a developing pattern of poor decision making, indecisiveness and costly turnovers. Flacco must manage the game get Ray his touches and once in a while stretch the field to keep the defense honest. With the amount of electricity being generated at M&T the Texans must silence the crowd if they are to have any chance of coming out of here with a win.

Ravens 24 – Texans 17


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