Last week, the Ravens improved to 4-1 with a 29-14 defeat over the Houston Texans. At the end of the first quarter, the Ravens used a number of Texans penalties to score, and Joe Flacco finished the drive off when he pounded the ball into the end zone from less than a yard out. Houston tied it back up when a Texans fumble bounced into the end zone, and was recovered for the score. Billy Cundiff added a field goal and the Ravens took a lead into the half. After another Cundiff field goal, the Texans took advantage of one-on-one coverage, and took the lead on a perfectly-throw pass from Matt Schaub to Jacoby Jones. After that lapse in coverage, the Ravens defense quickly stepped it up, and wouldn't allow another Texans score. After two Cundiff field goals, Ricky Williams sealed the win late with a four-yard run, and the Ravens got a much-needed home win over the Texans. We saw the best and the worst from the Ravens in this game. The offense produced, but were successful in just 50% of their red zone opportunities. That percentage will simply not cut it if the Ravens defense cannot hold the opponent's offense. That trend is a tad bit scary, and needs to stop in order for the Ravens to contend against better offensive teams. One good thing we can take away from the offense's performance last week was Anquan Boldin, who had one of his best games as a Raven, and is finally getting thrown the passes he deserves.
Player of the Game: Ravens RB Ray Rice- 23 carries for 101 rushing yards, 5 catches for 60 receiving yards
Last Week's Key to the Game: Last week I said the Ravens couldn't use the Texans injuries as an excuse for lightening up on them. At times it seemed like they did, but in the end, the Ravens defense buckled down, and were able to pull out the win.
Next Monday night, the Ravens travel to Jacksonville for a prime-time matchup with the struggling 1-5 Jaguars. A former rival of the Ravens, the Jaguars have got off to a bad start this year, and could have a tough time contending with a strong Ravens team. After cutting veteran QB David Garrard, the Jags have turned to rookie Blaine Gabbert to lead their offense, and he has yet to win a game. He has made his share of rookie mistakes, yet there is some promise in Gabbert's future. Last week, the Jaguars made it a game against the Steelers, losing by just four. The Ravens will need to do everything the Steelers did not in order to avoid a game that is even close to that. The Ravens defense enters this game with a tremendous advantage. They have allowed the fewest points per game in the NFL, while the Jaguars have the second lowest points per game total. Chuck Pagano's defense relies on confusing the opposing quarterback with many blitz packages, and this week, facing a rookie quarterback, expect Pagano's crew to thrive on the young meat they'll be presented with. All in all, Gabbert could be in for a long night. The one bright spot on the Jaguars offense is RB Maurice Jones-Drew, one of the premier backs in the game, who is averaging close to five yards per carry this year. If the Ravens can shut down Jones-Drew, they should have no problem stopping the rest of the weak Jaguars offense. On the defensive side, the Jaguars are allowing over 100 rushing yards per game this year, so look for Ray Rice to have a substantial role in Monday night's gameplan. To give you another example of the Ravens advantage in this game, Rice's single game average is just slightly worse than that of the entire Jaguars offense. On the bright side, the Jags defense are ranked 8th in yards allowed, so not everything is bad in Jacksonville. Also, former Ravens and current Jaguars S Dawan Landry will have the first chance to face his old team. On paper, this shouldn't even be close, and that is exactly what I think will happen come Monday night. I have the Ravens winning once again, 27-9.
Key to the Game: As I said earlier, the Jaguars main offensive threat is Maurice Jones-Drew, who has the chance to burn any defense he faces. If the Ravens defense can stop Jones-Drew, it should be smooth sailing.
Key Matchups for Ravens at Jaguars
Ravens S Ed Reed vs. Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert Edge: Reed
Ravens LB Ray Lewis vs. Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew Edge: Lewis
Ravens WR Torrey Smith vs. Jaguars CB Reshean Mathis Edge: Mathis
Ravens RB Ray Rice vs. Jaguars LB Paul Posluszny Edge: Rice
LB Dannell Ellerbe-Thigh-OUT
WR Lee Evans-Ankle-OUT
G Ben Grubbs-Toe-OUT
S Tom Zbikowski-Head-DBT
CB Chris Carr-Thigh-QST
S Courtney Greene-Hamstring-OUT
T Eben Britton-Back-DBT
G Jason Spitz-Quad-QST
Well, that's it for this week's version of my Ravens Report, see you next week and Go Ravens!