NFL Playoffs 2012: How the Houston Texans Can Upset the Baltimore Ravens
Going into Sunday, the Texans are looked at as major underdogs mostly because of the fact that they have rookie QB T.J. Yates starting.
But, if anyone has seen this year, the Texans are deadly and fully capable of knocking the Ravens out of the playoffs.
Here are the ways they can upset the Ravens at home, a place they have yet to lose this year.
1. Keep Pressure on Joe Flacco All 4 Quarters
We know many things about Joe Flacco. He has a great arm, he's been to the playoffs every year since getting drafted, and he's not that good of a quarterback.
That's right, he isn't.
When I look at Flacco, I see Mark Sanchez—an inconsistent performer with a good arm who gets rattled under pressure. Both players, without their team's defense, would have nowhere near the success of one Matt Ryan. With Flacco, you never know which side of him you're going to see—the franchise quarterback or the seventh-round talent.
With this being said, the Texans need to blitz often and keep Flacco pressured because, most likely, he will turn the ball over.
2. Let Arian Foster Run to the Outside
We saw it last week.
The Cincinnati Bengals stacked the box, and Arian Foster was struggling to pick up yards in the first half. Then, Foster ran outside for big gains during the second half.
I believe the Ravens will do the same against Foster; they will stack the box, and Foster will be more successful rushing this Sunday if he has plays to the outside.
3. Let T.J. Yates Throw the Ball
Plain and simple, the Ravens—as well as the nation—will be expecting to see a majority of Foster. This game reminds me of the national championship game between LSU and Alabama. LSU was not expecting A.J. McCarron to pass more, and they were beaten.
The Texans can be the same way.
I believe the Texans should start the game off with a couple of play-action passes, fooling the Ravens defense. Opening up with play-action passes will not only help Yates and his receivers, but will ultimately help Foster with the ground game. Let Yates connect with Andre Johnson early to establish his confidence.
The Texans have trusted Yates to be the starter in the playoffs, so they might as well trust him to pass the ball more.
4. Contain Ray Rice
This is easier said than done.
Offensively, Ray Rice is the biggest threat to score and move the chains. The Texans need to be aware of where Rice will be on every play and stack the box when he runs.
The Texans' defense must also be able to tackle Rice on the first try—another thing that is easier said than done.
Rice cannot be able to break tackles.
5. Win the Turnover Battle
The key to winning every game.
The Texans must be able to force turnovers at every possible chance. This can be accomplished if Joe Flacco is pressured.
Arian Foster and the offense must be able to get rid of their playoff jitters and protect the ball. A team relatively new to the playoffs like the Bengals isn't able to capitalize on something like that, but a team like the Ravens thrives and wins off turnovers.
Maybe J.J. Watt can pick off another pass.