Houston came away Saturday night riding high after dismantling the Cincinnati Bengals despite being decimated by injuries. Not bad considering it was their first playoff game in the team’s short history. This week they meet the Baltimore Ravens who they always seem struggle against and even lost to in week 6 earlier this season.
Because of injuries, Houston’s offense is predicated by the run. I doubt there’s a better 1-2 running back combo in the NFL better than Arian Foster and Ben Tate. The ability to run will take pressure off TJ Yates and let him manage the game accordingly. Yates can make plays and has some great weapons in Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels, but Baltimore’s defense is too experienced and talented to let a rookie QB torch them. Defensively, Houston needs to focus on shutting down Ray Rice and make everything go through Joe Flacco. He’s a solid QB, but his numbers in the playoffs are mediocre at best. Houston needs to jump out to a quick lead so they can control the tempo of the game and not let it get out of hand.
Offensively, Baltimore needs to stay as balanced. What made Baltimore so successful week 6 was that everyone on offense was involved so Houston couldn’t key in on one player. Too much Ray Rice and they become predictable and easy to stop. Too much Flacco and he’s bound to make a mistake from too many passes. The tight ends, Pitta and Dickson, should be able to have monster games working over the middle. As far as the defense goes, they need to force turnovers. Even with a rookie QB, Houston found a way to beat Cincinnati by 21 because they played mistake-free football. They also need to collapse the pocket to try and rattle Yates.
Both teams have dominant defenses and offenses that can score. Houston only has 1 playoff game under their belt while Baltimore has been underwhelming the past few years they’ve been in the playoffs. I think the Texans have a shot, but they will have to play mistake-free football and get a few breaks as well. Overall, I think Houston’s injuries and lack of playoff experience spell the end of their 2011 playoff run.
Houston Texans 13 – Baltimore Ravens 20