Texans - Ravens: Gameday inside slant

Week 13 in the NFL sees the Baltimore Ravens (3-8) hosting the worst team in the NFL - the Houston Texans (1-10). We take a quick look at what to look for on each side of the football and what each team needs to do to win.

When the Ravens have the football

Expect a heavily run-tilted approach from offensive coordinator Jim Fassel, especially since the Texans look so susceptible to that approach. If the Ravens remain capable of one thing on offense, it's power football. It's hard to believe that Jamal Lewis won't get his early Christmas wish of 20 to 25 carries following his first 100-yard game of the season. Plus, quarterback Kyle Boller, despite rebounding with three second-half touchdowns last week, raised even more questions about his mechanics and decision-making. The fact that the season is lost anyway and they want to find out if he's capable of being the starter going forward will keep the Ravens from being ultra-conservative. Tight end Todd Heap and receiver Derrick Mason have combined for 112 receptions for 1,292 yards and six touchdowns. That kind of production doesn't ordinarily happen on an offense that ranks 31st in scoring. Pretty bizarre.

Key matchup

RB Jamal Lewis vs. LB Morlon Greenwood

Lewis outweighs the Texans' undersized, quick-striking leading tackler, and they'll likely collide often at the line of scrimmage.

How the Ravens can win

1. Run the football. The Texans' linebackers are highly suspect. Just ask Edgerrin James, Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexander, Willis McGahee, Steven Jackson and Fast Willie Parker. This could be a vintage Jamal Lewis performance.
2. Pressure David Carr. Virtually every blitzer in the league is personally acquainted with the Texans' human pinata. He's been sacked 50 times this year, 190 in four years.
3. Keep a close eye on Andre Johnson. The talented receiver has recovered from injuries and caught his first touchdown last week.

When the Texans have the football

Offensive coordinator Joe Pendry has helped restore quarterback David Carr's confidence since replacing Chris Palmer, but he hasn't been able to protect Carr from pass rushers. With Carr sacked so often behind a pedestrian offensive line, it limits the Texans' ability to make an impact downfield. Although Carr has thrown 11 touchdowns with eight interceptions, his receivers average only a combined 9.8 yards per reception while opponents are producing 12.2 per catch. Carr is a threat to run, since he's so accustomed to being an escape artist and has gained 282 rushing yards. Jabar Gaffney and Andre Johnson are a developing receiving tandem with a lot of potential, but haven't played together long enough to pay major dividends. Promising tight end Bennie Jopru's season-ending injury has hamstrung this offense.

Key matchup

RB Domanick Davis vs. MLB Tommy Polley

Teams do watch film, and they're learning that Polley's athleticism can be negated if you run directly at him. It's the same gambit used on Ray Lewis.

How the Texans can win

1. Exploit Kyle Boller's miscues. He cast even more doubt on his competency last week with two interceptions and three fumbles in his first three quarters.
2. Break a long return. Rookie Jerome Mathis is averaging 31.2 yards per kickoff return, and has scored two touchdowns.
3. Pound the football. Domanick Davis' health is much improved and the Texans' leading rusher is capable of making the play-action fake a viable weapon.
Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

If you are reading this article via a news portal, you can find the original on RavensInsider.Com

Ravens Insider Top Stories