Baltimore Ravens vs Houston Texans: Final Prediction


Dec 14, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak congratulates tight end Owen Daniels (81) after his touchdown catch against the Jacksonville Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

No game this year has put me more firmly on the fence than the Baltimore Ravens’ road matchup with the Houston Texans. Let me qualify that: The Ravens absolutely should win as the more talented team, yet I can’t have confidence in their ability to win a crucial road game late in the season.

First of all, forget about the Texans’ current quarterback situation. Case Keenum and Thad Lewis aren’t necessarily world beaters, but they are good enough to keep DeAndre Hopkins involved and to avoid too many turnovers. Their passing, whoever should end up starting, will be enough to keep the Ravens at least a little off-balance while Arian Foster does his thing.

And Foster is the main reason this game is such a toss up. The Ravens don’t do well against Foster, who has run for over 4.5 yards per carry in each of his last three games against the Ravens. In four games against the Ravens, Foster has run for 301 yards on a 4.6 average. The Ravens struggle most against power, and Foster brings that in spades.

On the other side of the football, the Ravens should be able to produce through the air as long as Joe Flacco doesn’t have a meltdown game. On the road, though, anything is possible from the big guy.

The ground game will probably struggle, as it did last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans have a big front seven, and the Ravens tackles will undoubtedly struggle with J.J. Watt. Flacco’s improved pocket presence could keep Watt sackless, but it won’t keep him from having an impact.

There are two things I can be confident in. The Ravens will struggle to run the football against a Texans’ defense that gives up fewer than four yards per carry, and the Texans will not feature the passing game heavily. In turn, the game hinges on the Ravens’ ability to throw the football and to stop Foster. Do both of those things, and this game could turn into a rout. Fail to do either, and the Ravens will lose.

With their season still on the line, I will pick the Ravens to win. But it won’t be pretty. I expect another quality outing from Flacco, while Foster should be able to run the ball effectively. The Texans will get plenty of long drives, but the Ravens should hold them to field goals for the most part. The Ravens, meanwhile, will have to rely on Flacco to move the offense. Big plays have been hard to come by, so Flacco may have to dink and dunk his way up the field. He has proven up to the task so far, so the Ravens should have their share of long drives too.

With both teams consistently driving, the Ravens redzone defense will win the day, holding the Texans to field goals while Flacco just does enough to eke out a win.

Final Prediction: Ravens 20, Texans 16

Next: Ravens vs Texans: Three Bold Predictions