This week’s game in Houston on Monday Night is a very dangerous one. The Texans have their backs to the wall and if they collectively harbor affection for head coach Gary Kubiak, they’ll come out swinging because Kubiak sits firmly atop the coaches’ hot seat.
The Texans have very dangerous offensive weapons in QB Matt Schaub, WR Andre Johnson and RB Arian Foster. Their seventh ranked offense is capable of scoring and scoring big at home. Fortunately for the Ravens the Texans are equally capable of falling flat on their faces both offensively and defensively.
Houston fields the NFL’s fourth worst defense overall and they are the league’s worst when defending the pass. At home they are gracious hosts giving up over 24 points per game and that includes a shutout of the drama queen Titans. Take that game out of the equation and they’ve yielded 29 points per game in the apparently not-so-comfy confines of Reliant Stadium.
So where is the danger you ask?
Well if you give credence to a team playing for survival then chalk up an intangible for the Texans. But even if don’t buy into the back-to-the-wall edge, there is still danger in this game.
What if the Ravens continue to struggle to put points on the board, particularly when on the road where the Ravens have averaged just 19.2 points per game? Keep in mind this average includes the 37 points in Carolina where they played in front of 25,000 of their own fans. And let’s not forget the score in Charlotte was 20-13 until the Ravens reeled off 17 unanswered points during the final 3:45 of the contest.
The Ravens offense is frustrated. Just ask Derrick Mason.
"All these people that we’ve got on offense, I’ll get crucified for this one, but all the people that we’ve got on offense, we’re not a good offense at times, we’re really not. Call a spade a spade. If we were a good offense, we’d be moving the ball up and down the field, especially with the people that we have and the quarterback that we have. I have a lot of confidence in our personnel, but we’re just not a good offense at times."
Even the normally tight to the vest John Harbaugh expressed frustration with his offense.
“I don’t think we are consistent. Right now we’re not good at all on third down. A lot of that is we’re in third-and-long a lot. We’re not good in the red zone, in terms of putting the ball in the end zone like we should.
“And therefore, we don’t score a lot of points. We should be an offense that’s scoring a heck of a lot more than 10 points. We’re not good enough on offense, there’s no question about it."
There’s a hot mess simmering just beneath the surface. Faith in Cameron is fading and should the Ravens fail to get their offense in gear in Houston, the Ravens will have a problem – a big problem.
Derrick Mason’s direct, spot on yet professional criticisms will have more bark and bite and be even more direct.
Underutilized TJ Houshmandzadeh might have a thing or two to say.
And the equally frustrated but surprisingly mute Anquan Boldin has the potential to go Todd Haley on Cameron.
The Ravens should be able to take care of the Texans. They did so rather convincingly a couple of seasons ago with far fewer weapons by the score of 41-13.
But if Flacco & Co. come out flat again on the road and the Ravens somehow let this one slip away, the season could slip away as well. That simmering beneath the surface will escalate to boiling levels and it may morph into a full-fledged explosion.
If it does Harbaugh’s leadership and loyalties will be challenged like never before.