With the Texans dismantling the Cincinnati Bengals in a 31-10 final on Saturday afternoon, the Ravens now know they’ll welcome No. 3 seed Houston to M&T Bank Stadium at 1 p.m. next Sunday.
The Ravens own a 5-0 record against the Texans, including a 29-14 victory in Week 6 of the regular season. Billy Cundiff kicked five field goals, Joe Flacco threw for 305 yards, and Ray Rice rushed for 101 yards to lead the Ravens to victory despite trailing late in the third quarter.
Unlike the Oct. 16 meeting in Baltimore, Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson will be available, creating a matchup concern in the Baltimore secondary. However, Houston obviously won’t have the services of starting quarterback Matt Schaub, who threw for 220 yards and a touchdown pass against the Ravens in that regular-season meeting. Star running back Arian Foster was held to just 49 yards on 15 carries against the Ravens’ second-ranked run defense.
Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates is unlikely to cause any restless nights for the Baltimore defense leading up to next Sunday’s game, but Houston’s No. 2 defense — a spot ahead of the Ravens — will pose a challenge to Flacco and the Ravens offense.
The Texans possess the 18th-ranked passing game and second-ranked running game in the NFL. The Houston defense is third against the pass and fourth against the run in Wade Phillips’ first year as defensive coordinator.
With the Texans having just completed their first ever postseason game, next Sunday will obviously mark the first postseason meeting between the teams.
Houston’s win over the Bengals means the winner of Sunday’s wild card meeting between Pittsburgh and Denver will travel to Foxborough next Saturday to take on the No. 1 seed New England Patriots. For those pining for a third meeting between the Ravens and Steelers, it can now only take place in the AFC Championship game.
Of course, that one would take place in Baltimore.
But, before that can happen, the Ravens will need to take care of business in their first home playoff game in five years.