Preview: Ravens look to regroup in Cleveland on last road trip of 2017

CLEVELAND, OH — It’s been a long week in Baltimore. Yes, the Ravens’ loss in Pittsburgh last week did not hurt Baltimore’s playoff standings, but no one wants to fall victim of a season sweep to a division rival. The Ravens scored 38 points at Heinz Field in primetime, and it still wasn’t enough.

From watching the press conferences this week, it’s easy to tell that the coaches and players are upset. They’re upset that they blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter. They’re upset that the defense allowed over 500 passing yards to Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ passing attack, particularly the 213 yards in receiving (11 receptions) by Antonio Brown. Marlon Humphrey impressed in his first start since Jimmy Smith‘s season-ending injury. The struggles by Tony Jefferson and Brandon Carr, however, are concerning.

This week, the Ravens will again hit the road to face another division rival; the winless Cleveland Browns. This marks the last road trip for the Ravens this season, who own a 3-4 record away from Baltimore this season. Interestingly enough, Sunday will be the last time the Browns play at home this season.

The Browns play teams tough, but often make mistakes late in games that turn into points for opponents. Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer has thrown 17 interceptions this season, six of them coming in. the fourth quarter, which is more than he has thrown in any other quarter.

Last season the Browns went 0-14 before picking up their first win against the Chargers in week 16. This Browns team salivates for their first win of the season, and will play hard in their last chance to play in front of their home crowd this season. The Browns have not beaten the Ravens in four straight tries, and the Ravens have won three straight games in Cleveland. In week 2, the Ravens defeated the Browns 24-10 in Baltimore’s home opener at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Details:

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium – Cleveland, Ohio

When: Sunday, Dec. 17, 1:00 pm

Radio: WBAL 1090, 98-Rock, Baltimore Ravens’ website

Commentators: Gerry Sandusky, Stan White, Jarrett Johnson

TV: CBS

Commentators: Tom McCarthy, Steve Beuerlein 

Weather: The weather for Sunday in Cleveland looks mild, high of 39 degrees Fahrenheit with a low of 36 degrees. There’s a 20% chance of precipitation. Winds will blow southeast at 10-15 mph. There’s a chance for showers in the evening.

Injury Report: Around 3:00 pm on Friday, the Ravens released their official injury report for Sunday’s game. Here’s a screenshot of the injury report, courtesy of the Ravens’ Twitter account:

Screen Shot 2017-12-15 at 2.57.13 PM.png

Notes on the Ravens: 

  • The last time the Ravens faced wide receiver Josh Gordon, Lardarius Webb was a starting cornerback. A lot has changed since then, and the two starting cornerbacks the Ravens have own very little experience against Gordon, and the same can be said for the two starting safeties.
  • Terrell Suggs now owns 31.5 sacks in the months November and December. That’s his highest total of any month.
  • Justin Tucker has more field goal misses against Cleveland (five in 27 attempts) than any other team, but keep in mind that the Ravens face the Browns twice a year and have had a lot of scoring opportunities against them.
  • Sunday marks the first time that Ronnie Stanley faces Myles Garrett, the #1 pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. In eight games so far this season, Garrett tallied five sacks.

Notes on the Browns:

  • Gordon, who has made a return to the NFL after a three-year absence (substance abuse), has only faced the Ravens three times in his career (twice in 2012, once in ’13). Against the Ravens, Gordon previously caught just six passes for 98 yards. Without Smith, coupled along with Carr’s struggles last week, look for the Browns to match Gordon up with Carr, but also mix in some battles with Humphrey.
  • In two games since his return, Gordon recorded seven receptions (17 targets) for 154 yards and a touchdown. The Browns want to get him going, and looking at how the Ravens’ pass defense struggled last week, Cleveland will look for Gordon, Corey Coleman, and David Njoku down the field.
  • Last year in Cleveland against the Ravens, running back Isaiah Crowell ran for 133 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. This season, Crowell possesses a better yards-per-carry average on the road (4.80) than at home (3.58). It’s hard to predict how involved Cleveland will allow Crowell to have, but he does have prior success against the Ravens’ defense.
  • The Browns’ defense ranks 12th in the NFL in total defense (4,268 yards given up), but has given up the third-most points in the NFL (335), along with the Texans.

Up Next: The Ravens close out the 2017 season with two home games; the first against the Indianapolis Colts. This game will actually take place next Saturday, Dec. 23 at at 4:30 pm from M&T Bank Stadium.

Image Credit: SB Nation 

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PODCAST: Philadelphia Eagles roundtable special: Takes from media & fans alike

Throughout the entire 2017 NFL season, one team has dominated the league all season long, and that is the Philadelphia Eagles.

Being a senior at Bloomsburg University, I’ve clearly noticed that the bulk of the student population proudly calls themselves Eagles fans. Over the past four years, I have spent most of my time associating with Eagles fans. Being a mass comm major, I haveI met people that have gone on to work in Philadelphia Sports media, while others look to break into the industry. Some aren’t even going into sports media, but share the same passion for the Eagles.

Since the Eagles’ 2017 season has been nothing short of incredible, and because so many of my college colleagues follow the Eagles, I thought I could compile several opinions into one podcast. I interviewed seven people that either cover the Eagles, look to cover the Eagles in the future, or follow the team as a fan. Each individual was asked the same questions. The result is a near 50-minute podcast that brings together a handful of thoughts from multiple perspectives.

Interviewees:

  1. Jack Fritz – BU class of 2016 – Producer at 94.1 WIP – Founder of Philly Fan Life
  2. Tim Kelly – Senior at Bloomsburg University – Managing Phillies Editor, Eagles & 76’ers Columnist at Sports Talk Philly 
  3. Matt Loch – Senior at Bloomsburg University – President of BU’s Chapter of NBS AERho
  4. Enrico Connors – Senior at Bloomsburg University studying Business & Marketing 
  5. Jimmie Brown – Senior at Bloomsburg University, on exec-board for BU’s NBS chapter 
  6. Dean Turner – Senior at Bloomsburg University – Sports Editor at BUnow 
  7. Evin Hartsock – Senior at Bloomsburg University – Managing Editor at The Voice

Questions:

  1. Take the Carson Wentz injury out of your memory for just a minute. What has it been like watching the Eagles dominate all season long?
    • Hartsock: 7:43
    • Turner: 8:11
    • Brown: 8:46
    • Connors: 9:23
    • Loch: 11:01
    • Kelly: 12:09
    • Fritz: 13:29
  2. Take me through the moment you saw Wentz going to the locker room. What was your reaction then, and what was your reaction when you learned the severity of his injury?
    • Loch: 14:40
    • Connors: 16:44
    • Fritz: 18:01
    • Hartsock: 20:20
    • Kelly: 21:02
    • Turner: 22:19
    • Brown: 23:09
  3. What do the Eagles have in Wentz?
    • Connors: 23:39
    • Hartsock: 24:27
    • Brown: 25:00
    • Kelly: 25:27
    • Turner: 26:41
    • Loch: 27:29
    • Fritz: 29:00
  4. With Nick Foles leading the way now, what are your expectations of the Eagles in the postseason?
    • Brown: 30:24
    • Fritz: 31:05
    • Kelly: 32:35
    • Loch: 33:25
    • Turner: 34:25
    • Hartsock: 35:11
    • Connors: 36:01
  5. Opinions on the Manny Machado rumors from this week’s MLB Winter Meetings: Can the Phillies land Machado, and if they do, do you think they would do it via trade or a long-term deal?
    • Kelly: 38:10
    • Fritz: 40:17
    • Loch: 42:03
    • Connors: 42:55
    • Brown: 44:23

As always, subscribe to the Charm City Bird Watch Podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud. Leave a 5-star review on iTunes; we may read it on a future episode! Thanks for listening!

Ravens look to end Steelers seven game win streak in prime time matchup

This past Monday night the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals faced off in one of the ugliest games of the year. In fact, it’s probably been the hardest game to watch since the same teams met in the playoffs two seasons ago.

The Steelers’ defense took a huge blow when they lost linebacker Ryan Shazier to an ugly back /spinal injury. Shazier was carted off the field and immediately rushed to a hospital after he told team doctors he had no feeling in his legs. Pittsburgh’s 2014 first-round pick has progressed slowly this week and is showing some signs of improvement, but his timetable remains unknown. The thought now is that he will never play football again.

Shazier wasn’t the only player to be carted off in Monday nights game. Steelers receiver Juju Smith-Schuster may be new to the NFL and AFC North but he didn’t have a problem delivering a huge hit to a defenseless Vontaze Burfict. The hit was followed by a blatant taunt and Burfict had to be carted off the field. After the game, there was plenty of talk and controversy surrounding both injuries and the overall roughness of the game.

With a game against Baltimore on the horizon, the media questioned a few Steelers players about the difference between playing the Bengals and Ravens. Ben Roethlisberger has faced the Ravens many times and he had some interesting words about the rivalry. “The difference between this game and the Cincinnati game is these two teams — us and Baltimore — there’s always a respect involved in it.”

Lost in all of this commotion was the Steelers picking up their seventh straight win thanks to yet another game-winning field goal. Pittsburgh’s schedule gave some Ravens fans a reason to be cautiously optimistic, but after Monday’s game the Steelers are just one win (or Ravens loss) away from locking up the division.

Technically, the Ravens still have a chance to win the division, but they need to win out, and the Steelers need to lose all of their remaining games. This makes Sunday night’s game a little interesting from a playoff perspective, but it is nowhere near as critical as last years infamous Christmas game.

In many ways, this should be a relief for Ravens fans. It’s disappointing that a division title is practically out of reach, but we’ve been anticipating that for weeks now. Instead, fans should be happy that Sunday’s game will not make or break the team’s playoff chances.

Last Meeting: The Ravens hold a 6-4 advantage in the last ten games against their division foe, but the Steelers have won the last two matchups. Pittsburgh’s 26-9 win over the Ravens earlier this season marked their first at M&T Bank Stadium since 2012 and Roethlisberger’s first since 2010. The Steelers are 7-5 when hosting the Ravens since 2008.

Injury Report:

 

Notes on Steelers:

  • Juju Smith-Schuster will miss this Sunday’s game after receiving a one-game suspension for his illegal hit on Burfict. After the game, the rookie seemed to regret the viciousness of the hit but his teammate, but Antonio Brown had a different opinion. Schuster appealed the suspension but the league was quick to uphold it.
  • The Steelers’ current seven-game win streak is tied for the teams longest since 2004 when they finished the season with 14 straight wins for a 15-1 record.

Notes on Ravens:

  • It’s been a rough week for cornerback Jimmy Smith. After suffering an achilles injury in Sunday’s win against Detroit, Smith was handed a four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. The good news is that Smith can serve his suspension during the final four weeks of the 2017 season so it will have no impact on his eventual return next year.
  • After Smith’s injury, the Ravens now have over $44 million invested in injured or released players. This makes up over a quarter of the $167 salary cap.
  • Mike Wallace has averaged over 54 yards-per-game and over 13 yards-per-reception when playing against his former team.
  • Just how much of an impact has Brandon Williams had on the run defense? The stats show that his presence has helped greatly. Without Williams, the Ravens gave up an average of 169.5 rushing yards a game. When he has suited up, the team has given up just 84.25 yards a game.

Details:

When: Sunday, Dec. 10, 8:30 pm

Where: Heinz Field – Pittsburgh, PA

Radio: WBAL 109098 Rock

Commentators: Gerry Sandusky, Jarret Johnson, Stan White

TV: NBC, WBAL-TV

Commentators: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya

Image Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ravens dominate fourth quarter in 44-20 win over Lions

BALTIMORE — It was pointed out earlier this week that teams become cursed after facing the Houston Texans. Teams are just 1-9 this season after facing Houston for some odd reason but the Ravens were able to buck that trend with a 44-20 victory over the visiting Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Since the Lions have been known to struggle in the first quarter all season, the Ravens needed to jump out to a good start. Despite a couple of missed opportunities, they were able to do just that. After taking a 3-0 lead in the first quarter the Ravens offense was able to “let it loose” as Joe Flacco would like to describe it.

Following a missed field goal by Matt Prater, Flacco connected with Mike Wallace for a 66-yard bomb. Wallace came up just shy of the end zone but the play was still the longest of the year for the Baltimore offense. Flacco didn’t waste any time finishing off the drive as he connected with a wide open Ben Watson on the next play for a one-yard score.

The defense picked up on this unexpected burst of offense and came up with a turnover on the ensuing Lions possession. It hasn’t happened often this season but Eric Weddle was given the chance to blitz the quarterback and he didn’t miss his opportunity for a big play. The veteran safety went untouched off the blind side, catching Matt Stafford off guard and forcing a fumble. Willie Henry scooped up the loose ball for an extra 16 yards.

Flacco and the offense quickly turned this takeaway into another touchdown, jumping out to a 17-0 lead. By halftime, Flacco had racked up 192 yards to accompany his two touchdowns. It’s safe to say that this was a breakout performance as Flacco has only thrown for 200 yards in four games this season.

The only blemish for the Ravens in the first half was the loss of Jimmy Smith. The Ravens #1 corner has been having trouble with his achilles all year and it finally gave on him in the second quarter. Smith dropped back to cover his receiver but collapsed without making any contact. As soon as it happened, a hush came over the crowd at M&T Bank Stadium because everyone immediately knew what had happened.

Despite playing poorly in the first half, Detroit was prepared to make this a close game. The Lions have had a lot of experience playing from behind this season and they started the second half with a quality touchdown drive. A 42-yard pass from Stafford to Marvin Jones jump-started their offense similar to Flacco’s deep pass earlier in the game. The momentum continued to swing in Detroit’s favor as they forced the Ravens to punt on their next drive.

The Lions added another touchdown before the end of the third quarter but Prater missed the extra point. After dominating the first half, the Ravens quickly found themselves under pressure with just a one possession lead. Perhaps this is just what they needed though because nobody could have predicted what happened int he fourth quarter.

With the Lions knocking at the door, Flacco lead his offense down the field for a nine play, 74-yard touchdown drive. This score put Baltimore up by 14 but it still wasn’t enough to put the game away. However, the Ravens offense did not look complacent at any point down the stretch. With under eight minutes to play, Justin Tucker added a field goal and the defense picked up another turnover to officially put the game on ice.

The Ravens finished with 24 points in the fourth quarter thanks to another Alex Collins touchdown run and a pick six by Weddle. Flacco finished with 269 passing yards, Wallace racked up 116 receiving yards, and the team put up an impressive total of 44 points. All three of these are season highs.

This win is very big for a Baltimore team with its eyes on the postseason. For the first time all year they have a three-game win streak and the road ahead looks very nice. The Steelers are up next on the schedule but they are the only challenging opponent remaining.

For once, a late season meeting between these rivals will not mean much in terms of playoff implications. However, this rivalry is always going to be exciting and a win for either team would be a big confidence boost as the postseason approaches.

Image Credit: Daniel Mears, Detroit News

Preview: Ravens set to battle Stafford and visiting Lions

BALTIMORE, MD – After yet another inept game offensively against the Houston Texans, albeit a win, the Baltimore Ravens turn their sights toward the second most dangerous team they have to play in this rear end of the 2017 season, the Detroit Lions.

The Ravens have seemed to regain their early season dominance defensively with Brandon Williams back at the helm. The safety duo of Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson has finally gotten comfortable working with each other and have tightened up the back end.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect for the unit, considering they are going up against an inconsistent, although immensely talented, quarterback in Matthew Stafford who can’t seem to orchestrate scoring drives when in the redzone. The Ravens have excelled at redzone defense this year. The division rival Pittsburgh Steelers managed to keep the Lions out of the end zone after consistent long marches down the field.

Things to Look For:

  1. Ravens Defensive Backs – This will be one of the toughest, if not the toughest test the Ravens back end will have this season. Teams like the Steelers like to have some sort of pass/run balance, but the Lions and Stafford just sling it. The safeties and corners will have to run harder virtually all game.
  2. Lions Wide Receivers – On the flip side, the receivers Marvin Jones and Golden Tate have been one of the more dynamic receiving duos this season, combining for 164 catches and 1,429 yards. Both men have played extremely well against tough competition, making acrobatic plays to keep the Lions in games.
  3. Alex Collins – After being on the injury report this week, Collins looks to continue his strong production this week against a porous Lions run defense that has been gashed by many backs this season. Collins could top 100 yards against this drab unit, especially if Joe Flacco has less pass attempts.
  4. Ravens Offensive Line – It’s bad that I’m putting this here, REALLY BAD. The line will be going up against speed rusher Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah and veteran Dwight Freeney, who still has one of the nastiest spin moves I’ve ever seen. Ronnie Stanley needs to handle both of these guys better than he handled Jadeveon Clowney last week.

Details:

Where: M&T Bank Stadium – Baltimore, Maryland

When: 1:00 pm EST

Radio: WBAL-1090, 98 Rock, Ravens’ website

Commentators: Gerry Sandusky, Stan White, Justin Forsett

TV: Fox

Commentators: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman

Image Credit: Baltimore Ravens 

Defense overcomes penalties, forces late turnovers as Ravens top Texans 23-16

BALTIMORE — Hosting their first home Monday Night football game in over five years, and just the second home Monday Night contest of the John Harbaugh / Joe Flacco era, the Baltimore Ravens walked into M&T Bank Stadium with a purpose on Monday Night. Facing a light schedule the rest of the season, the Ravens needed a win on Monday to keep their #6 playoff spot intact. They took care of business on Monday against the Houston Texans, coming away with a 23-16 win.

The Ravens defense forced three turnovers in the game, two of them occurring in the final five minutes to seal the win. A Terrell Suggs strip-sack recovered by Willie Henry led to a field goal, and a Anthony Levine Sr. interception right before the two-minute warning left no time on the clock for Houston. In the first half, Tony Jefferson caught his first interception as a member of the Ravens and ran it back 13 yards. Jefferson, a recipient of jokes from teammates due to his lack of interceptions, can finally cross that chore off his “To-Do” list.

Although the turnover-savy Ravens defense carried the team again on Monday, the win did not come easy. The Ravens got penalized 10 times against Houston; eight of them against defense. Brandon Carr got penalized three times – twice for holding and once for pass interference. His PI call in the first quarter led to Houston’s first touchdown of the game – a four-yard run by Lamar Miller. That gave the Texans a 7-0 lead, presenting the Ravens with the challenge of winning a game after trailing, something that they had not done prior to Monday.

Along with Carr’s blunders, Jimmy Smith got flagged twice (defensive holding, pass interference), Maurice Canady was guilty of a late hit on Tom Savage, and Matt Judon committed an unnecessary roughness penality off a late tackle on Braxton Miller. On Houston’s nine-play touchdown drive, the Ravens committed three penalties and allowed gains of 23 and 29 yards. On the Texans’ three drives ending in field goals, four penalties were committed by Baltimore. The extra chances given to Houston via penalty, along the offense’s struggles, almost gave the game away. As a result, the Ravens won in their normal fashion: ugly.

Baltimore received the opening kickoff and went three-and-out. Houston got the ball back and responded with their first and only touchdown of the game. DeAndre Hopkins hauled in a 23-yard reception, and Savage would find Bruce Ellington for a 29-yard strike. Opponents have rarely found early success against the Ravens this season, making that opening defensive drive so uncharacteristic of this top-10 defense.

Following a few punts, the Ravens tied up the game on a quick seven-play drive that eclipsed just three minutes. Along the way, the Ravens converted their first of two good 4th-and-one attempts on the night when punter Sam Koch completed a perfect 22-yard pass down the left sideline to Chris Moore. Following a nine-yard completion from Flacco to Nick Boyle, Buck Allen found the end zone on a 10-yard run for his second rushing touchdown of the season.

Allen’s score became the start of a 17-play second quarter that featured another Ravens rushing touchdown. On Baltimore’s drive after Allen’s score, Alex Collins ran for 37 combined yards; a 29-yard dash – again on 4th-and-one – to the Baltimore 8-yard line, and then an eight-yard touchdown run. This five-play drive, like the prior one, occurred quickly (2:26), and gave Collins his second rushing touchdown as a Raven, and the third overall score of his career. His first touchdown as a Raven came during last week’s 23-0 win over the Packers.

On Houston’s drive following Collins’ touchdown, Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked his first of three field goals of the night (25 yards) to end the Ravens’ scoring run at 14 points. On the Ravens’ next drive, Justin Tucker booted his longest attempt of the day – 53 yards – to extend the Ravens’ lead to seven with as many seconds left on the clock. Going into the locker rooms, the Ravens held the 17-10 edge with 30 minutes of football left to play.

On the second Texans drive of the second half, three penalties in the Ravens’ secondary led to Fairbairn’s 36-yard field goal to put the Texans back just by four, 17-13. That wound up as the lone third-quarter score. Early in the fourth quarter, Tucker added three points in Baltimore’s favor on a 31-yarder. Fairbairn added three more points on Houston’s next possession, which turned out to be the last threat Savage and the Houston offense made. Suggs’ strip sack led to Tucker’s last field goal (49 yards), and Levine Sr.’s interception ended the comeback dreams of the Texans.

As a whole, the Texans outgained the Ravens in total yards, 303-294. Both teams faced 14 third down situations; the Texans converted six, and the Ravens successfully converted three. The Ravens went 2-for-4 in the red zone, and the Texans went 1-for-4. The Texans also held the edge in the possession battle, 30:16-29:44.

For the Ravens, Flacco went 20-for-32 for 141 yards. Savage went 22-for-37 for 252 yards and two interceptions. The Ravens failed to rush for 100 yards in their previous two games, but racked up 139 yards of rushing on Monday, led by Collins’ 60 yards with a touchdown on 16 carries. Flacco carried the ball six times for 42 combined yards. For Houston, Miller recorded 51 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Hopkins put on a show for the Texans, catching seven passes for 125 combined yards. Hopkins was targeted 10 times, and four penalties in the Ravens’ secondary occurred when the defender was assigned to Hopkins. The Ravens simply had no answer for him.

C.J. Mosley led Ravens defenders with 12 total tackles (five solo). Suggs notched two sacks, and now owns 124 career sacks, which is 18th all-time. Behind Mosley, Patrick Onwuasor continued his impressive sophomore season with eight tackles (five solo). For Houston, Kevin Johnson picked up seven solo tackles, and Jadeveon Clowney tallied his seventh sack of the season. Clowney disrupt the Ravens;’ offensive line early in the game, but finished with two tackles.

Updated Playoff Picture: 

AFC:

Division Leaders: Steelers (9-2), Patriots (9-2), Titans (7-4), Chiefs (6-5)

Wild Card: Jaguars (7-4), Ravens (6-5)

In the hunt: Bills (6-5), Chargers, Raiders, Bengals (5-6), Jets, Dolphins, Texans (4-7)

NFC:

Division Leaders: Eagles (10-1), Vikings (9-2), Rams (8-3), Saints (8-3)

Wild Card: Panthers (8-3), Falcons (7-4)

In the hunt: Lions (6-5), Cowboys, Redskins, Cardinals, Packers (5-6), Buccaneers (4-7)

Up Next: The Ravens remain at home on a short week with the Detroit Lions coming to town for a 1:00 pm tangle on Sunday, Dec. 3. The Lions will own a rest advantage, with 10 games separating Sunday from their last contest, a 30-23 loss to the Vikings on Thanksgiving. The loss to Minnesota snapped a three-game winning streak for the Lions. The Lions are 0-2 all-time in Baltimore.

Image Credit: Newsday

Ravens set to host first Monday night game since 2012

BALTIMORE — We at Charm City Bird Watch hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving with friends and family but now that the holiday rush is over, it’s time to get back to Ravens football. After last week’s 23-0 win over the Green Bay Packers, the team and fan base has been given new life but there remains a lot of work to be do as the Ravens approach the last six games.

The victory in Green Bay marked the third shutout of the year for this Baltimore defense but the team still only has five wins. Their .500 record is good enough for the second wildcard spot in a weakened AFC but there’s barely any space separating the Ravens from other playoff hopefuls like the Buffalo Bills.

Going into this final stretch of the year, we know that the Ravens have a chance simply based on their schedule. Four of the final six games will be against a team with a losing record. The other two are the Lions (6-5) and Steelers (8-2). In addition to this, the Ravens defense will get the chance to face yet another backup quarterback on Monday night in Tom Savage. They are 3-1 so far this year in games against backup QB’s.

Savage did start the season. as the Texans’ starting quarterback, but he got replaced by DeShaun Watson after he struggled mightily in Houston’s season opener. A torn ACL suffered in practice by Watson  means Savage has been thrown right back into the fold, going 1-3 as the Texans’ starting signal-caller.

The visiting Houston Texans are struggling, winning just two of their last six. However, they find themselves just one game behind the Ravens in a crowded playoff race. Many pundits are already counting Houston out, largely due to the loss of Watson. When it comes to the playoffs, this game means just as much for the Texans as it does for the Ravens.

Last Meeting: These teams haven’t seen each other in a few years. The Texans hosted the Ravens during week 16 of the 2014 season and came away with a 25-13 win. This was just the second win against Baltimore in Texans history as the Ravens lead the all time series 7-2. After four previous tries, the Texans have yet to win at M&T Bank Stadium.

Injury Report: As of Saturday Nov. 25

Notes on Texans:

  • Since losing Watson to a season ending injury, the Texans’ offense has averaged 15 points a game. That’s not a very comfortable number to work with if you are the Texans defense, especially when you are giving up over 24 points a game in the same span.
  • If the Texans want to beat the Ravens the blueprint is simple. Get pressure on Joe Flacco. Houston defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney has managed to get after the QB despite commanding double coverage after injuries to J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. Clowney has posted five sacks in his last four games.

Notes on Ravens:

  • There has been a lot of talk about Flacco’s quality of play this season but lets look at the numbers. Last week Flacco had a decent game but he failed to throw for 200 yards for the sixth time this season. Through ten games, Flacco is also averaging a career low 5.44 yards-per-completion. His passer rating of 74.4 is also the second lowest of his career with 2013 (73.1) coming in just slightly worse.
  • This weeks matchup against Houston marks just the second home Monday night game for the Ravens in the last ten seasons. Even though Flacco’s stats listed above are abysmal, lets give him credit for his 11-1 career record in prime time games.

Details:

When: Monday, Nov. 27, 8:30 pm

Where: M&T Bank Stadium – Baltimore, MD

Radio: WBAL 109098 Rock

Commentators: Gerry SanduskyJustin Forsett, Stan White

TV: ESPNWBAL-TV

Commentators: Sean McDonough, John Gruden, Lisa Salters

Image Credit: Fanspeak