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Texans Value of Things: Roses and Thorns— Baltimore Ravens edition

Here is a position-by-position breakdown of Saturday’s game

NFL: AFC Wild Card Round-Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

I hate doing this, but I feel the need to switch gears as we move into the divisional round. Instead of looking at how each unit will attack the other one, we will do a position by position breakdown. We will continue to use PFF scores some, but we will also mix in conventional numbers as well.

Quarterbacks

Lamar Jackson is the odds on favorite to be the league MVP. He combined for 29 passing and rushing touchdowns and nearly 4,500 combined rushing and passing yards. Stroud was close despite missing two games for concussions, but Jackson gets the edge here as he has both running and passing abilities that will be difficult to defend. Advantage: Ravens

Running Backs

This one is pretty close as both Gus Edwards and Devin Singletary are a shade below elite as runners and receivers, but both are more proficient than you think. The Ravens lost depth behind Edwards due to injuries and signed Delvin Cook for insurance. Dameon Pierce has disappointed this season. That makes this a wash. Advantage: No one

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

When you take out Tank Dell and Noah Brown you are scraping the bottom in terms of quality targets. Brevin Jordan might be more dangerous than the numbers show, but this team is desperate for a good number two receiver. They just don’t have it with Dell out. Zay Flowers has turned into a go to target for the Baltimore Ravens and Mark Andrews is a perennial All-Pro tight end. The key for them will be whether Odell Beckham can give them a glimpse of the Beckham of old. If he can then advantage goes to the Ravens. Advantage: Ravens

Offensive Lines

There are few stats for offensive lines that I trust, so here is where PFF comes into play. The Ravens have two linemen with 70+ grades and two with 60+ grades. Center Tyler Lindenbaum is the closest thing to a true All-Pro they have. The Houston Texans line has Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. The rest are backups or rookies that have performed admirably if not necessarily well. Advantage; Ravens

Defensive Lines

t took the top three tackles and defensive ends on both squads. The Ravens play a 3-4 so things look different. The six top Ravens lineman have combined for 40 tackles for loss and 38 sacks. The Texans group has combined for 53 tackles for loss 33.5 sacks. That only includes the top six guys and not Khalil Davis or Jerry Hughes. I’d say this is about as even as you can get. Advantage: No One

Linebackers

Again, one team runs a 4-3 and the other a 3-4. The Raven employ two traditional linebackers with the rest operating as edge defenders. Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen have combined for nearly 300 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and fourteen passes defended on their own. The Texans linebackers have not been that good as a group. Blake Cashman (82.9 PFF( grades out better than anyone, but the numbers aren’t close. The counting numbers point towards the Texans, but they also have an extra backer on the field in standard formations. The edge goes to the Ravens. Advantage: Ravens

Secondaries

This might be the strength of both teams in terms of production and grades. Derek Stingley and Steven Nelson have combined for nine interceptions and 25 passes defended. Both Desmond King and Jalen Pitre are good players in the box. Kareem Jackson might end up being the most important player if he can be a solid second safety. The Ravens group has combined for 15 interceptions as Kyle Hamilton might be the best safety on the planet. Assuming this group is all healthy, they probably have the edge. A healthy Jimmie Ward might have swing this the other way, but I have to give them the edge. Advantage: Ravens

Coaching/Intangibles

If we have learned anything in these playoffs, we have learned that narratives matter. Teams playing with house money seem to be looser and less susceptible to constricted breathing issues (avoiding the C word). The Texans have nothing to lose and the Ravens have all the pressure on them. Lamar Jackson is 1-3 in the playoffs. You can almost hear the pundits in Baltimore asking questions amongst themselves and out in the open. John Harbaugh has done it before and might have more experience than any currently employed coach. DeMeco Ryans has the least experience of any remaining coach. However, he showed something with his defensive adjustments against the Cleveland Browns. He moved Derek Stingley to Amari Cooper and shut down their top threat. Does he do the same with Zay Flowers? It will be a chess match and he will throw the kitchen sink at the Ravens. Harbaugh has a coaching advantage, but the narrative and the emotional state of the teams favors the Texans. Advantage: Texans