Game day has finally arrived.
I don’t know about you, but the bye week was bad for one thing.
Too much talking. Not enough playing.
Today, we get to watch the Ravens and Texans do battle.
What’s going to happen? I have no idea. I THINK the Ravens are going to win, but I know how sports works. Both teams are trying.
So while I don’t know for sure if the Ravens are going to win, I do know this for certain: What happened in week 6 in Baltimore doesn’t matter today. It doesn’t matter that Houston played that game WITH Matt Schaub and WITHOUT Andre’ Johnson. It doesn’t matter that Ben Grubbs wasn’t at left guard that day…or that Baltimore went 3-for-12 on third down and had to settle for five Billy Cundiff field goals. And it doesn’t really matter that the Ravens beat the Texans last season on a Josh Wilson overtime interception return for a touchdown.
None of that stuff matters today. None of it.
If you’re standing around your tailgate on Sunday morning trying to sports-talk with your buddies, please don’t try and make sense of what might happen later today by explaining stuff like “they couldn’t beat us with Matt Schaub back in October, how they gonna beat us today with T.J. Yates?”
I’m telling you now, none of it matters.
Just like it doesn’t matter that last week the Texans showed surprisingly solid form on both sides of the ball to easily dispose of the out-of-their-element Cincinnati Bengals.
The only thing that dictates the outcome of today’s game is which team plays better and makes the fewest mistakes. Anyone who thinks the Texans are incapable of being that team just doesn’t watch enough sports. Would it take a yeoman’s effort for Houston to win in Baltimore on Sunday? Sure. But stranger things…MUCH stranger things, in fact, have happened both to the Ravens and to other teams in the NFL.
One thing to remember is this: The Texans are in foreign territory today. They’ve never played a road playoff game, as a team, although players on their roster have participated in post-season play before. But, as a team, what’s set to transpire at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday is something most of the players haven’t experienced in their NFL careers.
And just when you say, “See, that’s going to be the difference”, you should remember this: The Ravens are also in foreign territory today. About 85% of the guys in purple on the field today are playing their first-ever playoff home game. Everyone in America – except the 53 players on the Texans sideline and their coaches and a few crazy gamblers who think they know better – expect Baltimore to win on Sunday. EVERYONE. And with that comes a unique pressure that the Ravens haven’t felt since 2007. Nearly all of the principles on Baltimore’s offense have never played a home playoff game in Charm City. It’s going to be new for them, too. (Please see next page)