Ravens-Texans Game Day: How They Match up

Todd_Karpovich

The Ravens and Texans meet for the 11th time in their history Sept. 20 at 4:25 p.m. at NRG Stadium. Baltimore won the previous meeting 41-7 last year at M&T Bank Stadium. 

Here's how they match up:

Passing Attack

Ravens: Lamar Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP, completed 20 of 25 pass attempts for 274 yards with three touchdowns (152.1 rating) in a 38-6 victory over the Browns in Week 1. Hollywood Brown routinely ran behind Cleveland's secondary, finishing with five receptions for 101 yards. Tight end Mark Andrews had a pair of touchdown receptions, and wide receiver Willie Snead had another score from the slot. Seven players had receptions. Look for Jackson to take shots downfield against Houston, which struggled against the Chiefs last week.

Texans: Quarterback Deshaun Watson completed 20 of 32 passes for 253 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 34-20 loss against Kansas City. He was sacked four times, which does not bode well for this game. The Ravens sacked Watson six times last season, and they have a more talented pass rush entering this game with the addition of Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe. Watson will look for wide receiver Will Fuller downfield. He had eight receptions for 112 yards against the Chiefs. He's the No. 1 target after DeAndre Hopkins was traded in the offseason.

Advantage: Ravens

Running Attack

Ravens: The Browns were determined to shut down Baltimore's running attack. J.K. Dobbins, a rookie second-round pick from Ohio State, had a pair of touchdowns. Mark Ingram was mostly bottled up and finished with 29 yards on 10 carries. Gus Edwards had four carries for 17 yards. Fullback Pat Ricard fumbled in the red zone in his only rushing attempt. It will be interesting to see how the Ravens spread out the carries against Houston, which will also initially stack the box. Edwards had 112 yards with a touchdown on eight carries against the Texans last season.

Texans: Running back David Johnson should get plenty of opportunities after running for 77 yards on 11 carries against Kansas City. Watson is also capable of making plays with his legs. However, he managed just 27 yards on six carries against the Chiefs. Duke Johnson will not play because of an ankle injury. 

Advantage: Ravens

Pass Defense

Ravens: Marlon Humphrey was solid against the Browns and earned his first interception of the season before dealing with a shoulder injury. He was able to practice all week. Safeties Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott had solid communication and played well. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 189 yards with a touchdown interception and was sacked twice. Campbell knocked down two passes on Cleveland’s opening drive. Watson threw for just 169 yards with an interception (63.7 rating) and was sacked four times against Baltimore last season. The Ravens will look to keep him under consistent pressure. 

Texans: The secondary struggled to contain Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who threw for 211 yards and three touchdowns. Jackson will attack both Houston cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Vernon Hargreaves III. Defensive end J.J. Watt has battled a hip injury most of the week, but he is expected to play. The Texans will rely heavily on him to keep the pressure on Jackson. 

Advantage Ravens

Run Defense

Ravens: The Browns did have some success against the Ravens with their outside runs. Baltimore eventually made the necessary adjustments and mostly contained Cleveland in the second half. Kareem Hunt finished with 72 yards, while Nick Chubb had 60 on the ground. Brandon Williams has moved back to his natural position at nose guard and should be able to control the middle of the line. Campbell and Wolfe are solid against the run. Baltimore rookie middle linebacker Patrick Queen had a team-high eight tackles. 

Texans: Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran for 138 yards on 25 carries and Houston will have an even bigger challenge against the Ravens, who can rotate three players in the backfield. Jackson is also capable of gaining substantial yards on the ground.  Houston linebackers Zach Cunningham and Benardrick McKinney are going to have to play much better this week to shut down Baltimore's high-powered running attack.

Advantage: Ravens

Special Teams

Ravens: Kicker Justin Tucker, long-snapper Morgan Cox, and punter Sam Koch are also widely regarded as the best in the NFL. Their experience is vital, especially with the tumultuous offseason. The Ravens are also relying on some of their rookies to make an impact on special teams. Devin Duvernay, a third-roujnd pick from Texas, was effective last week against the Browns handling the duties as the kick returner. Jame Proche, a sixth-roujd pick from SMU, is gaining the coaches' confidence fielding punts. Willie Snead and Marquise Brown are also options.

Texans: DeAndre Carter could provide a spark with the return game. Ka’imi Fairbairn missed a 51-yard field-goal attempt against the Chiefs after enduring some struggles last season. Punter Bryan Anger is effective pinning opponents deep in their own territory.

Advantage: Ravens

Prediction

The Ravens should have enough firepower to run away from the Texans. However, Houston does not want to start the season 0-2 and so there will be a sense of desperation. The Ravens are going to try and exploit the Texans' offensive line. Jackson showed poise in the opener and he should be able to handle the Texans' pass rush. 

Ravens 27, Texans 16

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