For your Houston Texans to make the playoffs, they need, aside from a loss by Indianapolis and Jacksonville, to win four straight games to end the season. While they pulled off this feat in 2009, there was no game as tough as the one that awaits the guys in Battle Red on Monday.
The Baltimore Ravens head to Houston coming off their own prime time loss to a team from Pennsylvania. On the outside, the Ravens' reputation of being a tough, physical, defensive-minded team dominates the Houston image of being a finesse team that can never live up to their potential. By all accounts, this should be a one-sided affair, right? Or do the statistics tell a tale where Baltimore has cracks in their armor?
As always, the results of scouring ESPN, NFL.com, and Football Outsiders, among other statistical databases, are below the jump with a look at what Houston should expect and where Houston may find success.
|Baltimore Ravens Offense||Houston Texans ' 'efense|
|Rushing||108.4 YPG (16th), 3.6 YPC (t-30th), 8 TDs (t-18th), 4 runs of 20-plus yards (t-29th), and Rush DVOA of 2.4% (13th)||101.4 YPG (t-10th), 3.9 YPC (8th), 10 TDs (t-18th), 5 runs of 20-plus yards (t-4th), and Rush DVOA of -2.3% (20th)|
|Passing||233.2 YPG (15th), 62.5% complete (13th), 19 TDs (15th), 8 INTs (t-7th), 40 passes of 20-plus yards (t-17th), 27 sacks (t-19th), 92.9 QB Rating (9th), and Pass DVOA of 33.5% (8th)||287.4 YPG (32nd), 66.5% complete (30th), 27 TDs (32nd), 10 INTs (t-19th), 59 passes of 20-plus yards (32nd), 19 sacks (29th), 102.8 QB Rating Against (32nd), and Pass DVOA of 47.2% (32nd)|
|Overall||21.7 PPG (17th), 341.7 YPG (14th), 5.2 Yards Per Play (20th), 69 penalties (11th), 31:48 TOP per game (11th), 53-47 Pass/Run Ratio||26.8 PPG (27th), 388.8 YPG (29th), 6.1 YPP (31st), 84 penalties (t-26th), 31:42 Time on Field PG (23rd)|
What the statistics say is that the running game should be a bit of a wash. The Texans can stop the run, and the Ravens are struggling to get any big yards on the ground. Football Outsiders puts the Ravens ground "success" more on the line than Ray Rice or Willis McGahee since the Ravens are struggling to get past the 2nd level and into the open field. However, since the Ravens have the 7th-worst power success (short-yardage success), the line isn't exactly blowing people off the ball either.
Direction-wise, the Ravens succeed at running on the right side (ranked 1st and 3rd to the RT/RE compared to middling rankings on the left and middle), but they only run a league-low 10% of their carries to the right. In a Kubiak-ish type manner, the Ravens run 35% to the left, only beaten by Washington's 36%.
When it comes to the Baltimore pass offense, well, the Texans defense is going to face an attack that is statistically similar to their very own offense. That's not good news. It looks like Baltimore will be without starting tight end Todd Heap, but they have a pair of talented rookies, Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, who can pick up the slack.
Wide receiver Derrick Mason (47 recs, 598 yds) and Rice (49 recs, 410 yds) see a lot of targets, but Joe Flacco's clear favorite is Anquan Boldin, who leads the team in receptions (56), yards (770), touchdown receptions (7), WR catch rate (61%), and WR DVOA rank (20th). I imagine Jason Allen will draw Boldin most of the day, and he'll have his hands full.
Since Flacco's not known for mobility, I would hope Frank Bush dials up the blitzes as he did for most of the game in Philadelphia
before he inexplicably stopped doing what was working and let Vick pick apart the swiss cheese secondary.
Lastly, if you needed proof of a defense that played without discipline or focus, look at the 84 defensive penalties. Yeah, I love that the struggling defense commits so many penalties.
|Houston Texans Offense||Baltimore Ravens Defense|
|Rushing||130.5 YPG (7th), 4.8 YPC (3th), 16 TDs (1st), 14 runs of 20-plus yards (t-6th), and Rush DVOA of 26.8% (2nd).||97.8 YPG (6th), 4.0 YPC (t-9th), 5 TDs (t-3rd), 8 runs of 20-plus yards (t-11th), and Rush DVOA of -12.8% (4th).|
|Passing||242.5 YPG (10th), 64.0% complete (9th), 17 TDs (17th), 8 INTs (t-7th), 48 passes of 20-plus yards (t-8th), 26 sacks (18th), 93.2 QB Rating (8th), and Pass DVOA of 39.0% (5th)||208 YPG (11th), 58.4% complete (10th), 14 TDs (t-6th), 11 INTs (t-15th), 42 passes of 20-plus yards (t-16th), 22 sacks (t-20th), 77.6 QB Rating Against (6th), and Pass DVOA of -0.3% (8th)|
|Overall||24.0 PPG (11th), 373.0 YPG (7th), 5.9 Yards Per Play (3rd), 65 penalties (t-7th), 29:16 TOP per game (24th), 55-45 Pass/Run Ratio||16.8 PPG (4th), 305.8 YPG (7th), 5.1 YPP (7th), 97 penalties (31st), 29:38 Time on Field PG (16th)|
Before the numbers intimidate you, the Texans have had success against top-rated San Diego and New York - both 3-4 defenses in the top-10 in a lot of statistical categories. Actually, the Jets had a better rush defense, and the Chargers had a better pass defense. I don't doubt this team's ability to move the ball against anyone after this past month. In two of their weaker performances, Baltimore's defense struggled against New England, another similarly elite offense, and gunslinging Buffalo.
That said, the Ravens' defensive line stats still surprised me. Even with Haloti Ngata, bfd and Rivers' #1 target of #nosetacklelust, the Ravens are 6th-worst in power success (70%) and one spot behind the Texans in stuffed percentage (18th to Houston's 17th). Maybe the theory of Chris Myers getting abused by Ngata isn't correct? Especially since Houston has the 4th-best power success (73%), 6th-fewest stuffed percentage (15%), and is the best team in running up the middle.
Based on those defensive line numbers, the Texans should find success running at Baltimore's left side. Baltimore ranks 22nd and 31st when offenses run behind the right tackle and right end. Running to the left or middle isn't advised, statistically, since Baltimore's among the best defenders on those sides.
Name-wise, Chris Carr, Josh Wilson, and Fabian Washington don't sound like world-beaters who can stop Andre Johnson, so that's always an option. Statistically, Matt Schaub, who heads a top-10 passing attack, should be looking at his 2nd receiver (Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones, whoever lines up there) since Baltimore's weakest at defending the #2s. The next vulnerability is covering running backs, but everyone with a brain knows Arian Foster is a beast who needs 30-40 touches a game.
Notice the offense's penalties; that's pretty good especially when compared to Baltimore's defensive penalties.
|Baltimore Ravens||Houston Texans|
|Kicking & Punting||19-22 FGs, long of 49 yards.
43.2 punt average (40.1 net); 29 in 20 (1st), 20 fair caught (t-2nd).
|19-21 FGs, long of 53 yards.
42.4 punt avg (38.5 net); 15 in 20 (t-26th), 11 fair caught (20th).
|Returning||22.8 YPKR (14th), 7.0 YPPR (27th)||19.4 YPKR (29th), 6.7 YPPR (28th)|
|Coverage||27.2 YPKR (32nd), 8.0 YPPR (t-10th)||22.7 YPPR (16th), 8.0 YPPR (t-10th)|
Lost in the coaching hot seat madness, special teams coordinator Joe Marciano should face some heat for the terrible special teams play. Football Outsiders has everything that doesn't involve Neil Rackers being among the league's worst. A new special teams coordinator and Alex Henery may be something that people should be calling for.
The return teams are evenly matched, average against average, league-worst with near league-worst, and over-matched punt return teams. The Ravens will have a field position weapon in punter Sam Koch, but Houston's used to having terrible field position - in fact, the Texans do their best work when having to drive 80-plus yards, as the NFL Network pointed out last week.
There you have it - Baltimore broken down by statistics. Game-wise, I expect a similar game to the New York Jets contest due to the similar statistical picture. At the very minimum, I feel confident that we won't lay as big an egg as New York did this past Monday. As I said during Jets week, I think this is a more winnable game than most people think.
What say you, BRBers? Feeling the same way? Thinking otherwise? Let the comments bear witness to your witty and insightful observations.
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