After a 2-0 start against teams they were supposed to win against, the Houston Texans will take it. History will not show if they were pretty wins or not, but they’ll still count and as a fan who suffered through so much losing for a decade, I’m not above just being happy with the “W.”
However, play time is over. In the next three weeks, the competition level for Houston is going to vastly increase. With road visits against both teams that played in the Super Bowl last year as well as a matchup with Seattle, some are thinking if the Texans make it through this by going 1-2, it’ll be a good stretch.
The team can ill-afford another slow start that sees them trying to play catch up against these teams. Baltimore has shown some cracks in their defense, and Houston will need to expose that.
This all starts with running the ball. I know it’s tempting to air it out after DeAndre Hopkins had his coming out party last week and the Ravens’ secondary seems to be in shambles, but controlling time of possession against Baltimore is key.
While the Houston secondary hasn’t been as bad as a lot of fans are proclaiming, they have been prone to giving up the big play and Joe Flacco loves to throw the ball deep. If they can limit the time that they’re on the field, the offense will have done its part.
Of course, another sub par performance by the offense as a whole could sink them early. Houston is currently still a two point favorite in this game, but they were heavy favorites in their first two as well. Here is what I see happening this Sunday at M&T Stadium.
In an effort to control the clock, much like last week, Houston will run the ball early and often. A heavy mix of Ben Tate and Arian Foster will set the tone and try to prevent Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs from simply teeing off on Matt Schaub with Duane Brown out.
I’m looking at what we’ve seen the last few weeks with Foster at about 66 yards and a touchdown with Tate contributing another 54. For the third straight week, Tate has the higher yards per carry and the calls for him to get the rock more will increase around Houston. But as a duo, 120 yards with a touchdown is tough to complain about, especially when it’s keeping both guys fresh.
Schaub will throw it less than last week as it will be a tight game and the need to air it out won’t be present. Andre Johnson plays and he and Hopkins combine for 158 yards receiving on the day. However, it’s Owen Daniels who finds the end zone again as well as his counterpart, Garrett Graham.
Schaub finishes the day with 254 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception – the essence of a game manager. Not as good of a day as Week 1, but not as terrible as his showing against Tennessee.
On defense, the Texans have always had success pressuring Flacco. They have sacked him 11 times in the past three meetings. Things don’t change as J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith both get to him this week. Whitney Mercilus also causes a fumble, but the Ravens recover.
The struggle continues for Randy Bullock who misses another long one and the calls for his head will only grow louder. However, the leg of Shane Lechler will keep the Texans’ defense in the game late when he keeps Baltimore backed into its own end zone.
In the end, Ed Reed doesn’t play much and Flacco makes some big throws over the middle to secure a 27-21 victory for Baltimore as Houston is unable to complete the comeback this time.
With the pressure mounting for the Texans coming home to face Seattle, things could get gloomy quickly.