It’s finally here Houston fans, the home opener!
To be honest I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s still weird to me to see so few fans at a game, and I’m a little bit conflicted on having the first home game against one of the best overall teams in the league. Home openers need to be tune up games! But, I guess everyone can’t play the Jets to start the season.
I digress, let’s dig into our week 2 preview and see how the Texans will fare!
First off, let’s cut to the chase.
This is not the game that we want to see at home, after the loss at Kansas City. This will be a tough game to win, but they do have the talent to shock the Ravens, sending them back home with their first loss of the year. The Texans will need to look to control time of possession here, if they want to squeak out a victory. The more they keep Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense off of the field, the better off they will be.
So, let’s take a look at a few keys to success and a prediction of how this game will play out.
The Texans offense needs to be clicking from the starting kick-off. The Ravens have an offense that can run away with this game in a hurry, so the Texans can’t be getting off to a slow start. Similar to my game plan for the Chiefs, they need to run the ball often and early.
The Texans will need to rely on David Johnson to lead the way on the ground. With Duke Johnson unlikely to play, David Johnson will need to be effective here. The Ravens are particularly susceptible on outside runs, so there is where the Texans will need to start their attack. Short passes to the flats and leaning on the outside runs will give the home team the edge they will need to keep the Ravens defense on the field and wear them down. The first step to victory is controlling the clock, through short passes and running plays.
Secondly the Texans will need to see greatly improved offensive line play. The Ravens front 7, led by Calais Campbell, can quickly wreak havoc on opposing teams. The offensive line needs to hold steady to give David Johnson time to find holes and to give Deshaun Watson time to find his open receivers. The Ravens have a much more dangerous defense overall then they saw in Kansas City, and the offensive line of the Texans will need to be playing sharp to counter them.
Sloppy play will not fly against this team and the Texans will need to capitalize when they can. If the offense can give Watson the time he needs, he will be able to find open receivers and keep his offense driving.
The Texans defense will need to do their best to hold the Ravens down. The Ravens don’t have top-tier receiving talent like a lot of teams in this league, but they do have skill at every position. Deep running back depth with surprising power coming from the rookie J.K. Dobbins (as well as veteran Mark Ingram), an arguably Top 3 Tight End in Mark Andrews, and absurd speed from Marquise Brown.
Truth be told, the Texans will not be able to keep this offense from scoring. The best chance is do what the Browns failed to do last week. The Ravens converted on nearly 55% of their third down attempts, and scored touchdowns on over 80% of their red zone possessions.
The best thing that they can hope for is a bend, don’t break defense. If the Texans defense can hold firm and hold Baltimore to field goals, they may be able to find success and upset the Ravens. If they can force the Ravens to kick, and let David Johnson and Watson control the clock, they may be able to steal a win here.
I don’t much care for the odds in this game, but the Texans are 7 point underdogs at home. They will struggle as the Ravens are one of the strongest opponents that the Texans will face all season. If they can hold tight and make it a tightly contested game, they can get by. If they let the Ravens score more than a few touchdowns, they will struggle to keep up, as this offense is not quite as dynamic as their opposition. I don’t believe they will be able to execute this game plan well enough to stop the Ravens and I have them losing this game, getting off to a less than desirable 0-2 start, albeit against two of the best teams in the league.
Texans 17, Ravens 34.