PFF Preview: Ravens @ Texans, Week 16
Two teams with January dreams face off at NRG Stadium as the Baltimore Ravens (9-5) fly to Houston (7-7) to take on J.J. Watt and the Texans. The Texans need a tremendous amount of help to make the playoffs while the Ravens can clinch a spot with a win and little bit of help. It won’t be easy for Houston as they look to start one of two quarterbacks that wasn’t even on the roster less than a month ago.
With a massive question mark at quarterback, look for the Texans to lean heavily on the talents of Arian Foster. Foster has missed a handful of games this year due to injury but appears to not have any lingering effects as he has 305 yards rushing while averaging 2.83 yards after contact per attempt in the three weeks since returning to action. His +3.9 run grade is tied for third best in the NFL while being tied for the second most breakaway runs (five +15 yard runs). Houston’s offensive line has been solid this season (+38.2 run blocking grade) and will need to continue that performance to open up lanes for Foster.
The Ravens boast one of the best run defenses in the NFL with a cumulative +44.9 run defense grade (fifth) and 84.3 opponent rush yards per game (third) – headed by rookie inside linebacker C.J. Mosley. Mosley’s performance has dropped the past five weeks as the grind of an NFL season wears on rookies. Rarely taking snaps off, Mosley has clocked in on the field 98.3% of the time and missing only five snaps in the past six games. His +12.0 run defense grade is second in the NFL while his 949 snaps are third-most. With a 9.7 Run Stop Percentage that ranks second among rookies and 10th of all players logging at least 200 run snaps, Mosley and the stout Ravens run defense will look to end the Texans’ hopes of playing meaningful January football.
Three things to watch for:
Marshall Yanda – Yanda is not just having the best season of any guard, but at +42.7 overall, he’s been dominant as a run blocker (+36.0) and has given up just one sack in pass pro.
Joe Flacco – Other than a two-week midseason blip (-9.8 in Weeks 8 and 9) Flacco is having a great year. Seemingly flying under the radar, Flacco has the fourth highest PFF QB Rating (94.92) while his 55.6% Deep Passing accuracy, which leads the league, is reminiscent of his magical Super Bowl run.
Brandon Williams – Haloti Ngata receives most of the praise on the Ravens defensive line – and rightfully so at +18.4 – but Williams is the Ravens’ top run defender at +12.9. The big nose tackle has more stops (26) and tackles (32) than Ngata and his 11.2 Run Stop Percentage is third in the NFL.
Chris Myers – The coach Bill O’Brien commits to the run, Myers rewards him with dominating performances. In the six games the Texans have run more than they’ve passed, Myers has graded in the green five times while the outlier still being a positive. In those games, Myers has a +17.1 run block grade while his season total is second in the NFL.
Kareem Jackson – Houston’s best cover corner allows just 1.11 Yards Per Cover Snap while his +6.0 coverage grade is just 2.9 points lower than Richard Sherman’s +8.9.
J.J. Watt – Looking to shed light on other players on Houston’s defense proved difficult as Watt’s season grade of +84.8 makes the Texans overall defense grade average at +13.2 Without Watt, the team’s cumulative defensive grade would rank fifth-worst.
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