coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 09/16/2013 04:11 PM in NFL

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens: Preview and Pick

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens: Preview and Pick

In week three of the NFL regular season two teams will take to the field that has yet to show their true identity. The Baltimore Ravens are 1-1 but struggled against a top team in the Denver Broncos and the Houston Texans are 2-0 but needed come from behind wins in both outings. When the Texans travel to Baltimore in week three, the winner will finally show what they are made of.

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens Odds

The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Texans listed as two point road favorites. This line has slightly moved and can now be found at -2.5 at several reputable online sportsbooks. This could be due to the public betting on the Texans as the consensus wagering shows that 68 percent of the early bets coming in are on the Texans. The line will not likely move much but a look at the injury list for the upcoming week could change all that as both teams are suffering from injuries.

The Ravens beat the lowly Cleveland Browns in week two of the NFL, but they struggled on offense. Joe Flacco was 0-for-5 on passes thrown more than 20 yards downfield against the Browns and is now 2-for-13 on such throws this season. During the Ravens' Super Bowl run, Flacco completed 13-of-26 passes of such length with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Flacco will have to play better when he goes up against the Houston defense and JJ Watt. It will help the Ravens if they can get healthy with Ray Rice in the lineup.

Despite numerous errors, the Texans responded with an overtime win against the Titans n week two. The Texans are the first team since the merger in 1970 to win each of their first 2 games of a season on the final play of the game. The Texans will need a healthy Andre Johnson in the lineup if they want to be able to beat the Ravens. The Texans need to play ahead in this game or they may not have a chance to come back.

The NFL betting trends favor the Ravens in this contest. The Ravens are 6-1 straight up in the last seven games against the Ravens are 19-2 straight up in the last 21 games at home for this team. Houston is however 15-5 straight up in the last 20 games and 7-3 straight up in the last ten games at home.

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/17/2013 03:58 PM

After struggling to put away a Tennessee team that is not expected to do much this season, the Houston Texans (2-0) take their show on the road this coming Sunday, meeting the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.

Houston, which had to come back from a 21-point deficit in its opener to beat San Diego (31-28), struggled with visiting Tennessee this past Sunday, ultimately scoring a 30-24 victory in overtime. With the win, the Texans made themselves the only unbeaten team in the AFC South, leading both the Colts and Titans by a game.

As the Texans prepare to head to Maryland for Sunday’s game, they no doubt will look to avoid having to pull out late game theatrics in order to go to 3-0. In the win over Tennessee, the Texans trailed 24-16 before staging their rally.

In the win over the Titans, Houston quarterback Matt Schaub finished 26-of-48 for 298 yards passing and three TDs (also had two interceptions). The bigger news for the Texans was that star wide receiver Andre Johnson was injured in the contest. According to the team, Johnson had to be evaluated for a possible concussion.

In Johnson’s place, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins came up with the game-winner, a three-yard TD reception in overtime. For the day, Hopkins finished with seven catches for 117 yards. Meantime, Houston’s ground game (Arian Foster and Ben Tate) combined for 172 yards rushing, with Foster scoring once.

Ravens Survive Scare From Browns

When the Texans meet up with Joe Flacco and the Ravens, they will encounter a team that struggled for much of the first half against AFC North Division rival Cleveland on Sunday. Although Baltimore escaped with a 14-6 victory over the Browns, Raven fans could not be overly excited with what they saw from the defending Super Bowl champs.

Baltimore (1-1) did not crack the scoreboard against the Browns until running back Bernard Pierce took the ball in from five yards out in the third quarter, giving the Ravens (with the extra point) the lead for good at 7-6. The Ravens added another score on a five-yard TD pass from Flacco to Marlon Brown in the fourth quarter. For the day, Flacco was 22-of-33 for 211 yards and one TD.

After being blown out in their season opener (at Denver, 49-27), the Ravens now look to make it two in a row with a victory against a Houston team that must run the gauntlet the next three weekends.

Following the game with Baltimore, Houston is home to host Seattle, then travels to defending NFC Champion San Francisco on Oct. 6. For the all-time series between the Texans and Ravens, Baltimore leads the match up 6-1. Houston got its first win in the series last season, blowing out the Ravens 43-13 at Reliant Stadium.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/18/2013 04:00 PM

The Baltimore Ravens are counting on having injured running back Ray Rice this Sunday against the unbeaten Houston Texans, even though the three-time Pro Bowl star may not be healthy enough to practice this week.

Rice strained his left hip flexor Sunday in the fourth quarter of Baltimore's 14-6 win over the Cleveland Browns. The good news is that the team has not scheduled an MRI to assess the extent of the damage."That's the indication that it's not anything really serious," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "They would be looking at it if they thought it was. So we'll just be day-to-day with him."

Now in his sixth NFL season, Rice knows the Baltimore (1-1) playbook well enough to skip practice before facing the Texans (2-0) on Sunday."I'd probably lean toward resting him this week and then seeing how he looks this weekend," Harbaugh said. "He's not going to need the practice to play in the game. If he feels great, we'll put him out there. If he doesn't, we'll probably rest him and get him ready to go Sunday if possible."

Rice gained only 36 yards rushing on 13 carries against the Browns. Backup Bernard Pierce compiled a team-high 57 yards rushing and a touchdown.No one is going to confuse Pierce, a rookie last year, with Rice. But Pierce did a fine job running out the clock after Rice left, gaining 10 yards on three carries for the game's final first down."When you're trying to run the clock down, they know you're running," Pierce said. "They have to stop you and we can't let that happen."

If Pierce has to start, Harbaugh could live with it."We've had confidence in Bernard since the day he got here and started practicing," the coach said. "He continues to get better. ... He's becoming a complete back."

Baltimore's offensive line won't have to go through any extra effort to open a lane for Pierce, who averaged 4.9 yards per carry in 2012."Next man up," guard Marshal Yanda said. "Sooner or later somebody is going to get hurt. The next guy has to take advantage and be ready to go because injuries, they are just going to happen. That's just the way it goes."

Rice wasn't the only player hurt Sunday. Defensive lineman Chris Canty strained his groin and cornerback Chykie Brown strained his knee. Those are the latest in a series of injuries that have forced the Ravens to use defensive starters Jimmy Smith, James Ihedigbo, Matt Elam and Michael Huff on special teams."We're a little bit nicked up," Harbaugh acknowledged. "That's a challenge, but they they're stepping up. You don't hear a word. They love to play, but it isn't easy."

The Texans have thus far defeated San Diego and Tennessee this season. Houston pinned a 43-13 defeat on Baltimore on last year."We got drubbed down there," Harbaugh said. "They do a great job with their schemes, all three phases, and they always play hard. They've got weapons everywhere. It's just going to be a big challenge for us."

The oddsmakers think so, too. Although Baltimore is 34-7 at home under Harbaugh, a run that includes victories in 22 of its last 25 games at M&T Bank Stadium, the Texans have been installed a slight favorite.

The Ravens are defending Super Bowl champions and Houston has won two playoff games in its history, both in the last two years against Cincinnati. But Baltimore is still trying to adjust to a massive roster overhaul, and although the Ravens bounced back to beat the Browns after absorbing a 49-27 bashing in Denver, they're a long way off from where they want to be."

We improved in some areas, and yet, when you watch the tape, there are still areas we need to improve in," Harbaugh said. "It's a work in progress. I feel like we're under construction."

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/19/2013 02:46 PM

Owen Daniels had never had more than a single touchdown reception through the first two games of any of his seven previous seasons, and four times in his career he finished an entire year with three or fewer scores.

This season, however, Daniels is already at three and counting. He's one of nine NFL tight ends with multiple visits to the end zone. Also on that list is his backup and fellow Wisconsin Badger, Garrett Graham, who has a pair of TD receptions in the Texans' two come-from-behind victories. Together, they have accounted for five of the team's seven touchdowns.

Simple math tells us that at this pace, they'll finish with 40. Common sense tells us that's not going to happen, but this apparent statistical aberration notwithstanding, it also tells us how important the tight ends are in the Texans' offensive scheme. They always have been. Coach Gary Kubiak collects tight ends with the same passion others reserve for art or wine.

In fact, Tuesday he signed another one, Nathan Overbay, to fill a scout-team role as a practice-squad member. And Ryan Griffin, a promising sixth-round pick from Connecticut, is No. 3 on the active-roster depth chart, playing special teams and waiting for the day Kubiak conjures up a three-tight-end set.

With Kubiak, you never know.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/19/2013 02:49 PM

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made headlines last week with his on-field tirades upon seeing pass after pass hit the turf.

Brady was fuming, and he let the whole nation see it.

That’s not how Joe Flacco rolls.

The Ravens have the fifth-most drops in the league this season (six), just two fewer than Brady’s Patriots. Flacco has seen tight end Dallas Clark and receivers Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown all drop potential touchdowns. Tight end Ed Dickson has struggled with his hands perhaps more than anyone.

Yet on Wednesday, Flacco gave it a simple shrug and expressed confidence in his pass catchers.

“It just is what it is,” Flacco said. “You’ve got to have confidence that your guys are going to catch the ball. If that’s our problem right now, then I have a lot of confidence that we’ll be good, because these guys are going to catch the ball.”

Flacco is working with a number of new targets this season in Clark and wide receivers Brandon Stokley and Brown. Even Dickson is still trying to work off some rust after missing the preseason.

Flacco said he thinks the biggest thing those players need is confidence, so they come out of the meeting rooms feeling like they know what they’re doing. He feels drops are usually the result of players who “aren’t completely comfortable in their environment yet.”

“When we take the field, just go out and play,” Flacco said. “I think when we get to the point where everybody can do that, then that’s when you’re going to see them making the great catches, making the routine catches, and doing all of that.”

Flacco has shown a bit more emotion with his receivers on gameday this year. When Tandon Doss ran an incorrect route during the preseason, cameras showed Flacco yelling and pointing as the two came off the field.

When Clark dropped a potential touchdown pass in Denver, Flacco simply put his hands on his helmet in disbelief. Even that was more than what Ravens fans are accustomed to.

But generally, Flacco doesn’t like to have much of a reaction on the field when his receivers drop passes.

“Gameday is not the time to go up and beat someone’s confidence up,” Flacco said. “The thing our guys need is confidence. If anything, they need me to sit down with them and say, ‘Man, you’ve got a ton of ability. Just go out there and let it go.’

“All these guys catch the ball unbelievably. That’s why they’re playing for us, that’s why they’re in this league. ... That’s my teammate. That’s the guy we have out there in the huddle with us and I have all the confidence in the world and I’m going to continue to have all the confidence in the world in them.”

Flacco said he can’t write a receiver off because then he might throw into double or triple coverage trying to force it to somebody else.

“So I’m going to continue to go where I think the ball needs to go,” Flacco said. “I’m going to continue to have confidence in our guys making catches. And eventually we’re all going to make plays. We’ve done it before and we’re going to continue to do it.”

Flacco isn’t the only one supporting the Ravens receivers, and specifically Dickson.

“Ed can catch the ball; he’s caught many balls here before,” Harbaugh said. “Ed’s going to catch a lot of balls.”

Smith struggled with drops early on in his rookie season, and thus feels like he can relate to his teammates’ struggles. “You got here by catching the ball, and you can do it,” Smith said. “Just don’t press and let it come to you. … Everyone has your back. Just go out there and focus. Be confident.”

Hearing that meant volumes for Dickson, who spoke in a calm, relaxed tone in the locker room Wednesday. Dickson fielded dozens of questions from reporters about his drops.

“If you’ve got a lot of people pointing fingers and a lot of people losing confidence, you lose confidence in yourself,” Dickson said.

Besides maintaining confidence, drops can be corrected simply through work. Dickson said he’s staying after practice every day to catch extra balls from Flacco and take some off the JUGs machine. He plans on maintaining that routine – success or not – throughout the entire season.

“It’s definitely going to come,” Dickson said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself and a lot of confidence that I’m going to have a big year.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/20/2013 07:18 PM

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice is considered a "game-time decision," coach John Harbaugh said after Friday's practice.

Rice hasn't practiced all week after injuring his hip in the fourth quarter of the 14-6 win over the Cleveland Browns. But Harbaugh has previously said that the three-time Pro Bowl running back doesn't have to practice to play Sunday against the Houston Texans.

On the official injury report released Friday Rice was listed as doubtful. Texans safety Ed Reed, who is working back from a hip injury, was listed as questionable. He hasn't played this season after coming over from the Ravens.

Rice has started 43 straight games, the longest current streak for NFL running backs.

"There's really nothing new to report," Harbaugh said. "We'll keep our fingers crossed, although we're prepared for it to go either way."

Backup running back Bernard Pierce wouldn't speculate whether he would start his first NFL game on Sunday.

"I try not to get involved with all the hype," Pierce said. "I just go out, stay focused and play my game."

Also Friday, the league said it would not discipline Rice after he was accused of spitting on Browns nose tackle Phil Taylor. Film of the play was inconclusive, according to the NFL.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/20/2013 07:19 PM

Injury report......

LT Duane Brown (DNP) Toe
TE Garrett Graham (Limited) Hip/Groin
FS Ed Reed (Limited) Hip

ILB Brian Cushing (Full) Knee
TE Owen Daniels (Full) Rest/Non-injury*
RB Arian Foster (Full) Calf/Chest/Thumb
WR Andre Johnson (Full) Concussion/Lower Back
CB Johnathan Joseph (Full) Rest/Non-injury*
ILB Joe Mays (Full) Quadricep
CB Brice McCain (Full) Knee
C Chris Myers (Full) Back
RT Derek Newton (Full) Knee/Calf/Elbow
WR DeVier Posey (Full) Achilles/Foot
ILB Darryl Sharpton (Full) Hip
LG Wade Smith (Limited) Knee
RB Ben Tate (Full) Shoulder

* - Daniels and Joseph were limited due to a coaches' decision to rest the players on Wednesday. Daniels was limited again on Thursday for the same reason. Joseph was a full participant in practice on Thursday. Neither player is injured.

NOTE: WR Andre Johnson's lower back injury and RB Arian Foster's thumb injury were inadvertently left off Wednesday's report.


Friday (9/20/13)
C Ryan Jensen (DNP) Foot
WR Jacoby Jones Knee

LB Arthur Brown (DNP) Chest
DE Chris Canty (DNP) Thigh
RB Ray Rice (DNP) Hip
WR Deonte Thompson (DNP) Foot
DT Brandon Williams (Limited) Toe

CB Chykie Brown (Limited) Knee

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/21/2013 12:16 PM

One answer was essentially revealed Friday when running back Ray Rice was listed as doubtful on the injury report. But one big question remains: How are the Ravens going to fix their running game?

The Ravens are averaging a lethargic 2.8 yards per carry in their first two games, which is No. 28 in the NFL. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants are averaging worse.

Rice has been stopped behind the line as many times as he's produced a run of more than 10 yards (three). Rice and backup Bernard Pierce have been limited to 1 yard or less on 25 of their 53 carries. That's 47.1 percent of the time.

The Ravens ran the ball when they needed to do so against Cleveland last Sunday in running out the clock, but no one would say the running game has lived up to expectations.

Asked how the Ravens can get their ground game back on track, Pierce said, "The O-line has to do what they do best -- block. Backs have to stay on tracks and run the ball how we know to. And that will solve everything."

Rice and Pierce haven't had too many running lanes this season. The offensive line has struggled driving defenders off the ball, and according to Pro Football Focus, three of the Ravens' starters (tackles Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher and center Gino Gradkowski) have negative grades for run blocking. McKinnie and Oher are among the eight worst tackles when it comes to run blocking.

Other than Gradkowski, this is the same offensive line that helped the Ravens average 134.8 yards rushing in the playoffs. Now, the Ravens are averaging 78.5 yards per game, a decrease of 56.3 yards.

The Ravens will have trouble turning the run game around Sunday, based on the Houston Texans' defense. Houston is holding teams to 3.8 yards per carry and hasn't allowed a running back to produce a run longer than 16 yards.

Now, the Ravens could be without their top back. Rice didn't practice all week with a hip flexor strain.

"Obviously, we all know that we're going to miss his ability out there," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "But we seem to be dealing with a little of injuries this year, and it's just going to be something we have to adapt to and win some games while we have guys filling in at positions."

The Ravens have expressed confidence in Pierce, who has not made a start in the NFL.

"He's a skilled back with some power and speed," offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. "He's been a guy that runs extremely hard, and when you look at our situation right now, he's going to have to carry a little bit more of a load. We fully expect him to step up and do the job."

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/22/2013 07:29 AM

Ravens will be without Ray Rice and Ed Reed will face his former team. Somehow, someway the Texans always find a way to win.

Pick: Texans -1