Fresh off a stellar win against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Texans will advance to the AFC Divisional round to face the Baltimore Ravens, a team whom they played during the regular season, but was blown out by. Despite that loss, this Texans team is far different from the Texans of Week 6 of the NFL Regular Season, a team that Baltimore had beat without their star, clutch wide receiver Andre Johnson.
A deflated Texans team went into the Baltimore with Matt Schaub who was still healthy, as this game was prior to his injury from the game against Tampa Bay, a sluggish offense who only managed to put up 14 points and accumulate 293 total yards of offense. A struggling Arian Foster was just beginning to work out the kinks still in his return to the team after returning to action in Week 4, in his return he ran for 155 yards against the Steelers’ stingy defense, but struggled against the Raiders, only getting 68 yards rushing, and only ran for 48 against the Revans. Foster is at full capacity and with Ben Tate behind him to relieve him of the primary pressures, he can expose the Ravens weaknesses and play better than his less than stellar performance against the Ravens in their previous match up.
With Johnson back in the starting role, even more pressure is relived from the running attack as the threat to go deep at any given play is on every snap Johnson plays, an x-factor that was absent the last time these two faced off. A catalyst of this offense, and the Ravens’ defense knows that Johnson and other playmakers in the Texan receiving corps are lethal given TJ Yates’ surprising success at the quarterback position.
Keep in mind that this is the same TJ Yates who threw for 950 yards in only his first six professional starts as an NFL quarterback, the same Yates who orchestrated a vintage Texans’ fourth quarter comeback, and the same Yates who has the confidence from winning his first NFL playoff game leading the Texans to their first postseason victory as well.
This offense has the Yates swagger this time going into Baltimore, and as they displayed against the Bengals game, this offense can light up the scoreboard and put up points at will; with Johnson, Foster healthy, anything and everything is possible.
Not to mention that this Texans defense is even better than before, and aside from the fourth quarter of the regular season meeting with Baltimore, kept the game will in reach for the offense to come back to tie or even take the lead. Forcing the Ravens’ offense to kick five field goals, and getting two takeaways from the Ravens, despite allowing 400 total yards, the offense of Baltimore had been held in check almost the entire game.
With an energized, healthy, offense, victory is very much attainable against the Ravens of Baltimore; game film and experience from the previous match up is a key commodity to the Texans, while the element of surprise against the Ravens is still up as a majority of the game film and experience from the previous match up is essentially useless to the Ravens, as the offense has changed significantly since then. It is do or die for the Texans as they look to keep their postseason run alive.
- Richard Perez