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Keys to the Game: Baltimore @ Houston

Stop Foster!

Week 7: Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans

Sunday October 21, 2012 1:00 PM

Line: Ravens +7.5 O/U 48

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure how much more of this drama I can take. Squeaked out victories, nail biting action and devastating injuries. It’s been one hell of a ride through seven weeks of the season. But here we are, 5-1 and tied for first in the AFC. Who’d have thought it? Well his weekend promises more of the same as the boys of Baltimore head back on the road to take down the Houston Texans. Can they pull out the upset or will the mounting injuries finally take their toll? With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s keys to the game.

 

Baltimore Gridiron Report Keys to the Game

1st and Ten: Limit Arian Foster

No use dancing around the elephant in the room. If the Ravens have any prayer what so ever of winning this game, they must man up and rediscover the magic that propelled their run defense for so many years. Arian Foster has been the top running back in football over the past few seasons, and you can bet damn sure that the Texans are going to jam him down the Ravens’ throats all day long.

Stop Foster. Win the game. It’s a tall order but it’s a must.

2nd and Long: Return the Favor

The flip side to the Foster coin, is that the Ravens have got to attack with Ray Rice and stick to it. A big part of the game plan has to be winning the time of possession battle. Looking back at the Cowboys game from last week, the Ravens possessed the ball a mere 20 minutes of the total 60. That is simply unacceptable. Game management and ball control will be a central theme to winning this contest. A strong power running game will help the Ravens control the ball and dictate the pace of play.

3rd and Short: Press the Line

One of my biggest complaints from Jimmy Smith and company this season (Lardarius Webb excluded) is that they refuse to jam wide receivers at the line of scrimmage on obvious passing downs. Certain wide receivers (Andre Johnson for example) can be disrupted completely if you just pressure them. Hit em hard and knock them off their routes.

Disrupt the tempo, get the receivers of their game and make it difficult for Matt Schaub to make his connections.

4th Down: Slow it Down

All season for the Ravens, there’s been an overwhelming tendency to speed up the progression and get a rapid attack offense running. So far, despite the flaws, it’s worked and the Ravens have managed to hold on for the win. This Sunday however, conventional wisdom must be bucked in favor of a slowed down controlled game plan.

The worst thing the Ravens can do is to try an attempt a shootout with one of the most dangerous offenses in the league. To win this game they must grind the game down to a halt and make the Texans work and scrape for every yard. This is the most talented team the Ravens have faced outside of the Patriots, and it’s going to be a battle. Slow it down, grind it out, and win the game.

Extra Point: Just Breathe

Ok. So you’ve lost your best defender. Also you’ve lost your team leader and emotional spirit. More than that you’re on the road against arguably the best team in the league. I know it’s easier said than done but the Ravens cannot let that get the best of them. They have to calm down, breathe and just relax. The Texans are going to bring the absolute house against the Ravens, and to beat it, it’s going to take a next to perfect showing. Patience, focus and control will be the recipe for success and the Ravens can keep their heads, they will scrape enough to earn the W.

BGR Predictions

Jonathon Scruggs (4-2)

The Ravens own the current longest active record for wins followed by losses when playing on the road and vice versa. When the Ravens win on the road, they follow it up with a loss. It’s like clockwork. They beat the Chiefs and I just don’t think they have enough in the tank to pick off the Texans.

Texans 34 – Ravens 23

Matt Jergensen (5-1)

It’s been a rough week to say the least. Houston is one of the top teams in the AFC and this game is as big as you’ll find on the schedule in terms of possible playoff positioning. The Ravens have to prove that they can not only stop the run but that the offense can click with the same efficiency on the road that it does at home. Still a close game, I see Houston having a bit too much to handle.

Texans 24 – Ravens 21

Gene Winner (5-1)

Not a good week to lose your best corner Webb along with Ray Lewis. I see the Ravens making it close, but right now the Texans are a more balanced team. And the Ravens have not exactly been stellar on the road. Still, if they do lose, 5-2 heading into the bye week is pretty darn good.

Texans 31 – Ravens 24

Ben Zinman (5-1)

This week has been like few others in Ravens team history. Ray Lewis and Ladarius Webb have season ending injuries. The injury to Lewis could be career ending as well as the passing of an era in team history. Houston is one of the best teams in the league. The Texans will win a fierce battle between two very good AFC competitors.

Texans 27 – Ravens 24


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