Week 12 Tale Of The Tape: Houston Texans At Baltimore Ravens
- QuarterbackEvery team has injuries, but the Texans have been overwhelmed by injuries to their top players. The season-ending knee injury suffered by Deshaun Watson has been devastating, because it took the Texans from AFC South favorites to just another team that struggles to play 60 consistent minutes. Tom Savage struggles with accuracy and his inability to read defenses.The Ravens have had a disappointing 5-5 season as they head into Week 12, but they are coming off one of their better games as they blanked the Packers 23-0 and Joe Flacco showed accuracy and know-how in the pocket. Flacco has struggled throughout the season and he has a 9-11 TD-interception ratio, but he is showing signs of coming out of it as the Ravens try to get back into playoff contention.
- OffenseThe Texans have some weapons on the offensive side, and a better backup quarterback would help the team take advantage of them. The combination of Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman was a strong one, but Foreman tore his Achilles in Week 11. DeAndre Hopkins was on his way to an All-Pro season when Watson was in the lineup. Will Fuller is an improving secondary receiver with eye-catching speed.The Ravens’ running game is in the hands of Alex Collins, and he had 24 touches in the win over the Packers. Collins has rushed for 570 yards and averaged 5.0 yards per carry in his second year. Jeremy Maclin is still establishing himself with the Ravens, but he is the best receiver on the team with 31-344-3. Mike Wallace has the speed to make big plays for head coach John Harbaugh.
- DefenseIt’s tough to play high-level defense without two of the top players in the league in J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, and the Texans have struggled. They rank 20th in yardage allowed, and if both of those players were healthy, they would probably be in the top five. Linebacker Benardrick McKinney has a team-high 62 tackles, while Jadeveon Clowney has 8.0 sacks.The Ravens’ shutout of the Packers was their third of the season. The Ravens rank sixth in yards allowed and they can make life very tough on a quarterback of Savage’s ilk. Veteran pass rusher Terrell Suggs leads the team with 7.5 sacks and he has also forced three fumbles. Linebacker C.J. Mosley has a team-leading 83 tackles and four passes defensed.
- Special TeamsThe Texans are not at the bottom of the special-teams rankings, and that’s an upgrade for a team almost always ranks in the bottom three. Veteran punter Shane Lechler has a powerful leg and is averaging 49.5 yards per game. Ka’imi Fairbairn has made 12-of-14 FG attempts this season.The Ravens can be very dangerous on special teams, and that’s not a surprise given Harbaugh’s background as a special-teams coach. They have a big edge in return-yardage differential, and Justin Tucker remains one of the top kickers in the league, having made 20-of-23 FG attempts.
The Ravens are playing better as the season heads towards the home stretch while the Texans are a rudderless ship without Watson, Watt and Mercilus. The Ravens should be able to handle their business here.