The Baltimore Ravens came into this week atop the American Football Conference (AFC) North Division with a 7-2 record. The Ravens are coming off an impressive 49-13 blowout win against the Bengals. They continued their hot streak with their sixth straight win, 41-7, over the Houston Texans. After a scoreless first quarter, quarterback Lamar Jackson started the game’s scoring with a 15-yard touchdown pass to receiver Seth Roberts. Jackson kept his name in the Most Valuable Player conversation the entire season and has been the spark for his team. Jackson has shown revolutionary traits that allow him to be successful as a passer and a runner, finishing the day with 222 passing yards and four passing touchdowns. The Ravens’ success continued all day as the second score of the game was thrown from Jackson to tight end Mark Andrews for an 18-yard score, making the game 14-0 at the half. Deshaun Watson and the Texans’ offense lacked a display of offensive firepower the entire game, only putting up a total of 232 yards coupled with two turnovers as a team. Jackson and the Ravens cruised through the rest of the game, finishing the day with 41 points, beating down the poor Texans’ secondary.
The final score:41-7
Both the Texans and the Ravens had playoff aspirations coming into this game. The Ravens still hold a lead in the AFC North, and the Texans are tied atop the AFC South with the Indianapolis Colts. At 6-4, the Texans still have a chance to win the division and cement their spot in the NFL Playoffs, but even without a division title, they will still be in the running for a wild card spot. Coming off their bye week, the Texans held a 6-3 record with their last game ending in a division win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in London, 26-3. This season, the Texans’ MVP so far has been quarterback Watson; however, this week was tough to watch for Texans’ fans as he finished the day with 169 passing yards and an interception. Receiver Deandre Hopkins was Watson’s top target, hauling in seven catches for 80 receiving yards. The Texans’ run game was average this week with a total of 122 rushing yards as a team, including 65 yards and a touchdown from starting running back Carlos Hyde. With the Ravens’ ability to score with ease, the Texans’ offense needed to do the same if they wanted a chance to win this game, but this did not happen. Watson was also without his number two target, receiver Will Fuller, who was out with a hamstring injury that has kept him out for the last few weeks. With four losses this season, Watson’s MVP chances look slim since the Texans have not been one of the best teams this season, and Jackson and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson have been posting incredible numbers. With offensive line issues and injuries, the team is not at full strength, but I was disappointed with their lack of scoring, which is something that will need to be fixed by season’s end if they want a chance at the Super Bowl.
The Texans had possibly their toughest task of the season so far in defending Lamar Jackson, and they failed miserably, allowing him to be involved in four scores. Jackson didn’t throw an interception and was only sacked one time. The Ravens rushed for a team total of 263 yards, including 112 yards and a touchdown by their starting running back Gus Edwards, along with an additional 86 yards rushing yards from Jackson. Holding possession for a total of 36 minutes and 19 seconds, the Ravens had 491 total yards with no turnovers and 25 first downs. Without J.J. Watt, the Texans’ defensive line is worse at generating pressure for opposing quarterbacks, which made it even easier for the possible MVP of the league to make plays both with his arm and legs. Having one sack and two quarterback hits is not an ideal result, especially when facing one of the best teams in the league.
Next week, the Texans will be playing the Indianapolis Colts for the lead in the AFC South. The Colts have been up and down this season, coming off a dominant win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, 33-13. With a talented offensive line led by Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith, Jacoby Brissett has showed that he can be a viable starter in this league and must be taken seriously if the Texans want to win. Running back Marlon Mack has been very impressive this year as well, racking up a total of 862 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns this season, calling for the Texans’ frontline to step up big this week. Receiver Parris Campbell has been out with a hand injury along with number one target T.Y. Hilton who sustained a calf injury. Jacoby Brissett has been dealing with a knee injury, but did play against the Jaguars. Linebackers Darius Leonard and Anthony Walker had 65 tackles and three sacks and 62 tackles and one sack, respectively, as they led the defense. This will be important for the offensive line to watch out for. This game is extremely important for the Texans’ playoff chances and should be treated as a must-win. If the offensive line gives Watson enough time to get the ball to Hopkins and Stills, and if the defensive line creates pressure for Brissett, the Texans should keep this game close while looking for a victory.
Houston, 35-30 in Week 12