Biggest X-Factors for Ravens to Avoid Upset Loss vs. Texans in 2024 NFL Playoffs

Biggest X-Factors for Ravens to Avoid Upset Loss vs. Texans in 2024 NFL Playoffs

0 of 3

    Lamar Jackson

    Lamar JacksonMichael Owens/Getty Images

    The Baltimore Ravens road to Super Bowl LVIII begins in the divisional round of the 2024 NFL playoffs with the surging Houston Texans coming to town.

    All four higher seeds held serve in the wildcard round so the Texans drew the short straw. They likely aren’t coming in scared, though. Their confidence will be sky-high after handing the Cleveland Browns a 45-14 defeat in the opening round.

    The two teams did meet in the regular season with the Ravens winning 25-9 in Week 1. But that feels like a lifetime ago and the Texans have obviously notably improved with DeMeco Ryans and C.J. Stroud both developing throughout the season.

    So the Texans will look to show that they are good enough to hang with the AFC’s elite, while the Ravens are are going to have to remind everyone why they got to take last week off.

    Here are some key x-factors that will help the Ravens avoid getting bit by the upset bug.

Interior Pressure on C.J. Stroud

1 of 3

    Justin Madubuike

    Justin MadubuikeDavid Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    C.J. Stroud is a force to be reckoned with, but like any quarterback, he’s going to have a hard time dealing with pressure.

    The Browns pass rush is strong, but they weren’t able to have success against a Texans offensive line that has gotten healthy at the right time. The Browns did not sack C.J. Stroud once and only registered one quarterback hit.

    With Laremy Tunsil and George Fant holding down the tackle spots, the Texans were able to limit the Browns pass rush on the edges.

    Both the Ravens and Browns have had top defensive units throughout the season. One major difference between the Ravens and the Browns, though, is that the Ravens have an elite interior pass-rusher.

    Justin Madubuike has put up a breakout season with 13 sacks. His ability to win on the inside could create interior pressure that the Browns weren’t able to have. Stroud does the majority of his damage inside the pocket.

    Having a player who can win matchups on the inside and push Stroud off of his spot is an x-factor that the Browns didn’t really have. It could make all the difference as the Ravens try to slow down the rookie quarterback.

Ravens Takeaways

2 of 3

    Kyle Hamilton

    Kyle HamiltonThearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    The Ravens defense was one of the best in the league, in part, because no one was better at generating takeaways. The Ravens picked off 18 passes and recovered 13 fumbles to lead the league with 31 takeaways.

    The Texans have the lowest turnover rate in the league. Their offense has taken good care of the football with just 14 giveaways throughout the season. That trend continued as the Browns were unable to force a takeaway.

    However, the Texans have benefitted from some turnover luck. According to PFF’s statistics, Houston recovered their own fumbles at the eighth-highest rate in the league (56.2 percent) and had nine dropped interceptions throughout the season.

    According to PlayerProfiler, C.J. Stroud has thrown 18 interceptable passes this season. He’s been great, but he isn’t above putting the ball in harm’s way.

    The Ravens have been one of the most opportunistic teams in the league. If that continues, the Texans could be committing more turnovers than usual on Saturday.

Lamar Jackson vs. C.J. Stroud

3 of 3

    Lamar Jackson

    Lamar JacksonMichael Owens/Getty Images

    Sometimes it’s as simple as having the best quarterback in the matchup. C.J. Stroud has made an emphatic case to be named the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Lamar Jackson has made an emphatic case to be the 2023 MVP.

    There’s a good chance the difference in the game is the difference between the two.

    With Todd Monken taking over the offense and Jackson remaining healthy throughout the 2023 campaign, Jackson has recaptured his 2019 form that saw him win the MVP award.

    The Texans did a good job of bottling him up in Week 1. He had just 38 yards rushing and completed 17-of-21 passes for 169 yards and a pick. That was also his first game in Monken’s system.

    Since then, he’s only been limited to 38 rushing yards or less four other times on the season. He’s also become much more comfortable executing the passing concepts that Monken has built into the offense.

    Meanwhile, the Texans haven’t seen too many true running quarterbacks this season. Kyler Murray is the closest thing that’s most recent and they gave up 51 yards rushing to him on seven carries.

    The Texans offense might be able to keep them in the game, but Jackson’s magic should ensure they avoid the upset.

Read More


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here