1. As the last-place Baltimore Ravens (3-8) stride onto the field today at
M&T Bank Stadium, they'll find themselves in an unusual position as the
favorites. That's because the Houston Texans (1-10) are in town. They are primed
to win the Reggie Bush or Matt Leinart sweepstakes with the first pick in the
NFL draft. They've definitely earned it, going 0-5 on the road. They've scored
only 168 points, allowing 325.
For the Ravens, winning this game is an extreme matter of pride. Imagine the public outcry and humiliation if the Ravens manage to lose to the Texans. It might seem unthinkable, but it could definitely happen. What have the Ravens proven this year? They've only defeated three teams, exploiting the following so-so quarterbacks: the New York Jets' Brooks Bollinger, Cleveland's Trent Dilfer and Pittsburgh's Tommy Maddox. David Carr might be beaten up, but he does have solid skills.
With that said, this remains a must-win game for the Ravens. As outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said, the Ravens desperately don't want to be the team that loses to the Texans. If they don't, it will leave an indelible impression on the fan base and owner Steve Bisciotti. It would not bode well for Ravens coach Brian Billick to have a loss to Houston on his watch. Even though Billick owns a Super Bowl ring and an impressive overall record, this remains a what-have-you-done-for-me lately league.
2. Run the football. The Texans allow 158.1 rushing yards per contest and have surrendered seven 100-yard rushing games not including Reuben Droughns' 99-yard outing. Jamal Lewis is licking his chops.
3. Rush the passer. The Ravens have generated only 22 sacks. One would think they could get after Carr, who's been sacked a staggering 50 times. Suggs and Co. only seem to thrive against clearly inferior blockers and haven't shown up against the best offensive tackles in the NFL.
4. Be more careful with the football. Largely because of 16 interceptions and nine lost fumbles, the Ravens are tied for 30th in turnover margin with a minus-11 ratio.
5. Improve in the red zone. Despite a season-high 29 points last week, the Ravens are still 28th at scoring inside opponents' 20-yard line. They've produced only 10 touchdowns in 27 trips inside the red zone for a 37.0 touchdown percentage.
In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.
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