Monday Night NFL Preview: Texans at Ravens

The Sports Xchange

November 26, 2017 at 1:12 am.

Oct 15, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) throws during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at M&T Bank Stadium. Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 15, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) throws during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at M&T Bank Stadium. Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports


KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, M&T Bank Stadium. TV: ESPN, Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: Ninth regular-season meeting. Ravens lead series, 6-2. The teams last played in 2014, when Houston won 25-13 at NRG Stadium. The Texans have won two of the past three matchups but are 0-4 at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore won the only postseason meeting, in the divisional playoff in 2013.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Tom Savage will get his fifth start of the season, facing a Ravens secondary that leads the NFL with 16 interceptions.

Coach Bill O’Brien said ball security will be paramount. “Against the Ravens, you’d better make sure you take care of the football. Whoever is carrying the ball, obviously throwing the ball, everything. That is one of the biggest stats in our game today — that turnover takeaway ratio. We have to do a great job in that area.”

The Texans will try to take the pressure off Savage by running Lamar Miller.

Last week, Baltimore kept the pressure on quarterback Brett Hundley, who threw three interceptions. The Ravens will have the same game plan against Savage. Baltimore strives to give its offense a short field.

The Ravens hope to have left tackle Ronnie Stanley back in the lineup from a concussion. However, Stanley remained in concussion protocol this week. The offensive line struggled to protect Joe Flacco last week against the Packers. As a result, Flacco resorted to mostly checkdowns because of the constant pressure.

Houston is ranked 26th against the pass, so Flacco will take some shots downfield. If they can take an early lead, the Ravens will look to pound the ball with Alex Collins.


–Texans RB Lamar Miller vs. Ravens DT Brandon Williams. The Ravens were one of the worst run defenses in the league when Williams missed four games with a foot injury. They allowed 169.5 rushing yards per game and went 1-3 over that stretch. Since Williams’ return, they have dominated opponents. Miller ranks 10th in the league with 604 yards and two touchdowns and will get a lot of work, especially with the Ravens’ secondary playing at a high level. The Texans don’t want backup quarterback Tom Savage creating costly turnovers, so the onus will be on Miller to move the ball.

–Ravens QB Joe Flacco vs. Texans CB Johnathan Joseph. A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Joseph got burned by T.Y. Hilton for a touchdown pass and then got beat the following week by Rams WR Robert Woods. Joseph appears to have lost a step. Flacco has the arm to make him pay.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney. He has a career-high eight sacks and 15 tackles for loss this season. Clowney has 34 tackles for loss in his past 24 games, the most in the NFL.

FAST FACTS: Houston beat Arizona 31-21 last Sunday and has scored 30 six times — tied with the Rams and Eagles for most in the NFL. … Houston RB Lamar Miller has three TDs in his past four games and is one of five AFC RBs with 600 rushing yards (604) and 250 receiving yards (264). He has 207 scrimmage yards (166 rushing) in the past two meetings. … WR DeAndre Hopkins leads the NFL with nine TD catches. In his past two road games, he has averaged 167.5 yards. He has caught at least seven passes in each of his past five road games. … DE Jadeveon Clowney had two sacks last week. In his past four games, he has five sacks and nine tackles for loss. In his past five road games, he has five sacks, 10 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two recoveries. … LB Benardrick McKinney is one of four NFL linebackers with 240 tackles (249) and eight sacks since entering the league in 2015. … CB Kareem Jackson had two interceptions in the last meeting. … CB Johnathan Joseph has two interceptions, including one for a TD, in the past four meetings. … Baltimore blanked Green Bay 23-0 in Week 11. The Ravens’ three shutouts this season are tied for the most since the Ravens had a franchise-record four in 2000. The Ravens have 13 shutouts — the most in the NFL since they joined the league in 1996. … Baltimore RB Alex Collins has 341 scrimmage yards in the past four home games. He ranks second in the AFC with 5.04 yards per carry. … WR Jeremy Maclin has TD catch in two of the past three at home. He has 278 receiving yards and two TDs in his past three games vs. Houston. … WR Mike Wallace has scored in the past two games. He is one of three active players (Julio Jones and DeSean Jackson) with 500 catches (510) and 15 yards per catch. … LB Matt Judon recorded two sacks and a forced fumble last week, his third career multi-sack game. He has three sacks in his past two games. … In his past five home games, LB C.J. Mosley has 50 tackles, four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and an interception-TD. … LB Terrell Suggs had two sacks and a forced fumble in Week 11, his 20th two-sack game. He is one of five active players with 20 career two-sack games.

PREDICTION: The ballhawking Ravens should have another easy target in Savage, who has turned the ball over nine times.

OUR PICK: Ravens, 23-14.

–Chris Cluff