The start of live NFL regular season action is less than a month away. The Baltimore Ravens are set to host the Houston Texans on Sunday, September 10 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. As we continue to count down the days until the NFL’s glorious return, here’s a look at how that matchup could play out when the two teams take the field.
Baltimore Ravens: What’s the Outlook?
The Ravens picked wide receiver Zay Flowers out of Boston College in the first round, and one can expect he’ll have a big role to play as they look to overhaul their receiving corps.
For the Ravens, a week one home game against Houston is one of the best scheduling outcomes possible. It could take Baltimore some time to settle in under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. The preseason helps, but it’s difficult to build consistency when you aren’t playing with your game-day roster. Monken deploys an interesting offensive strategy where he uses a handful of simple plays (think your typical inside zone run or quick pass) but
has more complex looks that he can build on from there. It could look like the Ravens are going to call a simple run up the middle, but in fact, Monken will be looking to attack every inch of the field, a sort of total war on the gridiron… a much-needed breath of fresh air after departed offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s one-dimensional style.
As such, Baltimore has some excellent flexibility in this game. In order to pick up an easy win, their best bet is to control the pace of play by running the football. Winning is the most important thing, obviously, but they will also have a chance to try some new things against a Texans team that should be a walk in the park for them: if they’re blowing the doors off Houston.
Superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson can take some gambles as he figures out his chemistry with new targets like Flowers and Odell Beckham Jr. If he wants to go for the home run play and take a deep shot to Beckham, it’s not like the potential waste of a down will cost them the game.
On the contrary, it will help them down the line as they continue to mesh their playing styles. Over at BetMGM Maryland the Baltimore Ravens come in second at +220 to win the AFC North behind Cincinnati Bengals at +150. Stacking a win early against a Houston Texans team that they’re expected to beat is a must as they head to Cincinnati in Week 2 to take on the Bengals
in what will be their first real test of the season.
Houston Texans: What’s the Outlook?
The Texans, on the other hand, picked quarterback CJ Stroud out of Ohio State with the second overall selection in the draft. They may have gotten a steal there, as many pundits thought that Stroud was a better prospect than Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, who ended up going first
That doesn’t change the fact that the Texans are a mess and there’s only so much that Stroud can do to overhaul a floundering franchise on his own. After going through a carousel of quarterbacks over the past half-decade (whether due to injury or poor play, both of which stemmed in part from a terrible offensive line that couldn’t keep signal callers upright or give them time to find a target), they’ve taken steps to solidify the position, whether it’s Stroud or
their improved offensive line. Just as it’ll take time for the Ravens to figure out how to play together under a new scheme and reworked roster, though, the Texans aren’t going to be able to fit all the pieces together right away under first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans.
Houston traded back up in the first round in order to pick Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. as a selection after Stroud. He’s an excellent prospect with off-the-charts athleticism and a good deal of polishing already under Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban.
Who Ya Got?
I think it goes without saying that I expect Baltimore to win this game and do so handily. Stroud is an excellent quarterback, but the pieces just aren’t there yet. The Texans have players that Baltimore will have to game plan around (they won’t want Anderson to get a good shot at Jackson), but they simply don’t have the talent or depth to keep up with the Ravens’ excellent
coaching for 60 minutes. This should be a good game to get the offense in sync before facing off with Cincinnati in Week 2.