Ravens vs. Texans: 5 Most Important Ravens in Week 7 Game
Game day is here.
Much has been made about this game, with the consensus being that a bruised Baltimore defense won't be able to go on the road against a top-tier AFC squad and come out with a win.
Earlier this week, I wrote a piece detailing why there is still a possibility that the Ravens could pull off the upset in Houston, though, trying to give some hope to a somewhat skeptical fan base.
Now if that were to come true, there would certainly be a few players who would have had to step up.
Here are the five most important Baltimore Ravens in today's game against the Houston Texans
Note: Terrell Suggs is not on this list as he is a game-time decision. Should he play, he would obviously be one of the most important players taking the field.
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That is the average number of rushing yards given up by the Baltimore Ravens in their last two contests.
Now they will head on the road to faceoff against the top running back duo in the league.
If the Ravens do manage sew up their run defense and hold Arian Foster and Ben Tate to less than 150 yards on the ground (still an outrageously high number by Ravens standards), it will start with Haloti Ngata.
He's is one of the NFL's best defensive linemen and by far the team's best run-stopper.
Despite not being at 100 percent, Ngata will easily be one of the most important players on the field today, even if he plays a limited number of snaps.
Should Baltimore find a way to leave Houston with a win, don't be shocked if a fair share of the postgame praise is thrown the way of the banged-up defensive lineman.
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This week will be a true test for Joe Flacco.
Not only will he be facing an impressive Texans defense, led by Defensive Player of the Year candidate J.J. Watt, but it's very likely that he will be forced to put up some points, considering Houston should have a few good series against an embattled Baltimore Ravens defense.
Flacco will also be called upon to succeed on the road, something he's struggled with this season.
In fact, in his two road games so far this season, Flacco has a completion rate of just 50.7 percent and thrown for an average of 209.5 yards per game with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Contrast those numbers with his play at home.
At M&T Bank, Flacco has a completion rate of 67.6 percent, while averaging 317.8 yards per game and has tossed seven touchdowns to just two interceptions.
If ever there was a time for Flacco to prove himself as a top-tier quarterback who can lead his team to victory in tough situations, this would be it.
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It hasn't exactly been the best season thus far for Ravens CB Cary Williams.
He's consistently been a step or two behind receivers and rarely breaks up plays thrown to his man.
And that was as the No. 2 corner on the depth chart.
Now with Ladarius Webb out for the remainder of the season, Williams will be asked to step up and play an even bigger role on the defensive side of the ball.
For Williams, turning around his 2012 campaign (which also happens to be a contract year) has to start in today in Houston.
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Torrey Smith having a good game will also be instrumental in the Ravens picking up the win today.
As Joe Flacco's deep threat, Smith is the guy who can really stretch the secondary out.
That would help the offensive games of Ray Rice, Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin, who could pick up the smaller-yardage plays underneath.
If Flacco and Smith can connect for another one of their deep touchdowns, it would also help out the defense.
So long as it wasn't the first play from scrimmage after the defense got off the field, a long ball resulting in a touchdown would put up a quick seven points and really take the pressure off of a hurting defensive unit.
Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele
This one is fairly simple.
The right side of the offensive line must elevate their game this week.
Why? Because they'll be tasked with stopping second-year phenom J.J. Watt, who has already amassed an eye-popping 9.5 sacks, which leads the NFL.
If Joe Flacco is to have a chance at hitting a deep bomb, or Ray Rice is to have any hope of having success running the ball, Marshal Yanda and rookie Kelechi Osemele must have a monster game for the Ravens.