The biggest threat the Baltimore Ravens pose to the Houston Texans isn't their defense

The Houston Texans can beat prime defense, that's not the issue come Saturday.
Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens
Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens / Rob Carr/GettyImages

The Houston Texans have done this dance before. Not only literally, as Saturday will be a rematch against the Texans and Baltimore Ravens from Week 1, but also figuratively. See, the Ravens and their illegitimate half-brother, the Cleveland Browns, had a very similar season. Both teams led with their defense, both teams held opponents to a low number of total yards and both teams silenced a lot of regular-season critics.

The Browns' defense, for all intents and purposes, was "better", but the Ravens defense did one thing better than the Browns' defense; they stopped teams from scoring. The Ravens gave up just 16.5 points per game, compared to the Browns 21.3. Numbers that were good enough for 1st and 13th respectively.

So why, if the Browns' defense was "better" than the Ravens' defense, did the Ravens have a better point-per-game average? Simple, it's because of their respective offenses. The Ravens offense and Browns' offenses are vastly different beasts, especially after Joe Flacco debuted for Cleveland.

The Ravens relied on the thousand-little-cuts method to victory. Run the ball, short passing yard, eat up the clock, and give few opportunities for opposing teams to score. Quarterback Lamar Jackson was 18th in yards per game for a reason. It was the same brand of offense the Browns had to start the season, but they lost then Nick Chubb was lost for the season. Then, after weeks of having no real offense, Flacco came in, turned the Browns into a pass-happy team, and ended up giving far more opportunities to other teams. Flacco would lead the league in yards per game.

The Ravens never changed that up. Yes, 18th in passing attempts per game, but 1st in rushing yards per game. It was the Ravens' ability to control the clock that made their defense so good.

The Browns were number one in time of possession, but a lot of their scoring plays were usually, at least near the end of the season, big plays generated by the passing game. That time of possession is mostly a holdover from when the Browns had to deal with guys like Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Forced to run the ball, and settle for field goals, not the high-powered, dynamic offense they had with Flacco.

The Ravens, again, never changed. They ground out wins. It's why their defense was able to give up so few points; the opposing team didn't have many opportunities to score. You combine a team that can go 80 yards, take off eight minutes of the game clock, score a touchdown, and then be able to hold you to a three and out, and you're going to have a hard time scoring points.

Forcing the Ravens off the field, and scoring fast will be key to the Houston Texans getting a victory.

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