Keys to the Game – Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens 1/15/12

Last Updated: January 15th, 2012 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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In what appears to be one of the greatest mismatches in the entire playoffs, the Houston Texans will take on the Baltimore Ravens in the second round of the NFL postseason. Check out our Texans vs. Ravens keys to the game for Sunday’s slugfest.

NFL Playoffs Matchup: Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens
Texans vs. Ravens Location: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
Texans vs. Ravens Date/Time: Sunday, January 15th, 1:00 p.m.
Texans vs. Ravens Television Coverage: CBS

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Key #1: The Houston defense has to get pressure on the edges
This is the why the Cincinnati Bengals really struggled against the Houston defense on Saturday. The Texans have the ability to bring an immense amount of pressure off of the edges with their 3-4 look. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips isn’t afraid to bring the heat on every play, and the combination of LBs Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin, along with DEs JJ Watt and Antonio Smith can really make a big difference. QB Joe Flacco has been known to make some bad decisions when he is under pressure in the pocket, and that might be the case once again in this one if Houston can force him into bad situations. The Texans were built as a team with strength right up the middle with LBs Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans, but it is the boys on the outsides of the front seven that are going to be the big difference makers if the Texans are going to even remotely have the ability to pull off the upset.

Texans @ Ravens Odds at Wager Web Sportsbook
Houston Texans +9
Baltimore Ravens -9
Over/Under 38
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Key #2: Both sets of running backs have to keep the ball moving
If the Ravens can get RB Ray Rice in some space, whether it be as a rusher or a receiver, Flacco won’t be in those positions to have to face the wrath of the Houston front seven. Rice had over 2,000 total yards and 15 TDs this year, and we have to remember that RB Ricky Williams has the ability to have some big games when called upon as well. For Houston, the key is down and distance. Punting is okay, but at least staying on schedule in terms of 2nd and 7 and 3rd and 3 is key. The less than QB TJ Yates has to do, the better off that the Texans are going to be. That means that RB Arian Foster is going to have to have another big time game. He racked up over 150 yards on the ground against the Bengals on Saturday, including a number of runs in which he hit the corner and snared those few extra yards that made the difference. It’ll be tougher against the Baltimore defense with all of its speed, but Foster and RB Ben Tate will have no choice but to get the job done in this one, or the Texans will get run off of the field at M&T Bank Stadium.


Key #3: Both teams have to get used to some new territory
This may seem silly, but the Ravens have to get used to the idea that they are supposed to win this game. They went 6-0 this year against playoff teams, but those four losses were four brutal, brutal losses this season, and they all came in games in which they were expected to win and win with ease. Remember that Flacco has never played a game at home in the playoffs in his career, and this could be a totally different situation for him since he usually has tremendously low expectations. Houston has obviously never played a road playoff game, and Yates has never seen anything the likes of what he is going to see in terms of defensive intensity on Sunday. However, the Texans clearly have nothing to lose. They came out of that win against Cincinnati in great shape, and they acted like it was just another win on a Sunday that helped them out. Sure, there was some celebrating, but there wasn’t a Gatorade bath for Head Coach Gary Kubiak, and the team didn’t go all out as if it had just won the Super Bowl. There is more work to be done for sure. That being said, no one outside of Houston really believes that this team has a shot at the upset, and that could play big time into the Texans’ hands, especially if the pressure of playing at home proves to be too much for Flacco to overcome.

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Posted in NFL Football - Last Updated on Sunday, January 15th, 2012 @ 10:54 am (EST)
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