Welcome to week two in this 2008 NFL season… er… I mean… week 10.
The Ravens head to Houston this week to take on the Texans in the game rescheduled from second week of the season, postponed after Hurricane Ike barreled into southeast Texas and damaged the Texans’ Reliant Stadium. The schedule changes brings together two teams in very different situations than eight weeks ago.
Early in the season, the Texans had high hopes. They were supposed to breakout and perhaps even challenge the elite of the AFC South—if not for a playoff position than at least for some standing in the division.
Meanwhile, the Ravens were entering this year with hopes to rebuild behind a rookie coach, rookie quarterback and aging defensive unit.
How things have changed.
Entering week 10, the Ravens are now fighting for an AFC North division title and a playoff spot. Their five wins already equals their total from last season. The Texans have been on a roller coaster of their own, though. Following an ugly 0-4 start, the Texans had won three straight until last week’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
As we head into the weekend, here are two key match-ups to keep an eye on as the Ravens and Texans finally get to square off.
Texans Offense vs. Ravens Defense
WR Andre Johnson vs. Ravens Secondary
There are two undeniable facts here. First, that Andre Johnson is proving to be a beast and having a career year in 2008. Second, that the Ravens secondary continues to be the defense’s greatest weakness.
Such a combination—great receiver against weakened defensive backs—seems to always spell trouble for a team that relies heavily on the success of its defense.
Let’s start with Andre Johnson. Johnson entered the 2008 season as a good wide receiver, bordering on greatness, but oft limited by his own team’s ineptitude. Last season, Johnson truly broke out in an injury-shortened season. In just nine games he had more than 850 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.
This year, Johnson has continued to the trend from last season. Already in just eight games he has 60 receptions, more than 800 yards, and three touchdowns.
And as if the Ravens needed more trouble from receivers, it’s worth noting that Johnson does his absolute best work at home in Reliant Stadium. In four home games this season, Johnson has led the Texans to a 3-1 record by averaging more than 10 receptions and 148 yards per game.
148 yards in eight home games alone is enough to give Johnson an 1100-yard season. (more…)