Houston Texans – The Best Team in the AFC

Sometimes, it’s not about opinion, but purely about the record. There’s only one loss team in the AFC after there were two on Sunday Morning. The Houston Texans took care of that by destroying the Baltimore Ravens 43-13, leaving no room for doubt or comparison between the two teams.

While Houston lost Brian Cushing to a season ending injury, immediatly followed by a loss to the Green Bay Packers, the hits on the Ravens were bigger. Yes, they got back Terrell Suggs, but they lost the heart and engine of their defense, Ray Lewis. Ed Redd played injured and left in the fourth quarter. Lardarius Webb missed the game as well. The Ravens never get crushed. The Texans made quite a statement with their win.

They made Joe Flacco look, well, horrible. How bad? 21-43, 147 yards (3.4 per attempt), 1 TD, 2 INT, 45.4 passer rating, 0.3 QBR. Can’t be any worse. He was sacked four times, twice by Antonio Smith, and took big hits four more times. Gary Kubiak knew he needed a much more emotional and powerful performance from his players against the shaken up Ravens, and he had his guys simply coming out of a cannon, playing in a level of physicality and aggression that simply couldn’t be matched.

There’s the case of J.J. Watt, who didn’t even get a sack. But just like Jason Pierre Paul on the New York Giants, Watt makes you change every throw and deflects so many passes, some of them turning into interceptions. There isn’t a defensive lineman playing as well as he is right now.

It was simply smothering on both ends. The Texans pounded the ball through Arian Foster, who finally got some nice numbers on each of his carries without having to work as hard as before. He ran for 98 yards on 19 carries, scoring two touchdowns. The Ravens finished with 181 yards on the ground.

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And the protection; the protection was perfect. Matt Schaub got sacked twice, but was simply clinical when the Ravens used a five man pass rush, going 8-8 for 85 yards and a touchdown after being one of the worst in the NFL (27th) in those situations until this game. He finished with 23-37, 256 yards and two touchdown passes. Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels were his favorite targets, combining for 16 catches 145 yards.

Something went wrong for the Texans after that dirty hit on Cushing two weeks ago. Against the Packers, who came more prepared and were able to execute their game plan very early, it was too hard to comeback. The Ravens were just the opposite. They came out shaky, with Joe Flacco too exposed, and that’s just too easy for the Texans to miss out on. This defense takes advantage of every crease and opening, which is the biggest and most important key in their game, because Matt Schaub isn’t a quarterback that operates well when coming from behind.

This team is about running the ball and begin super aggressive. Like the 49ers; like you once expected the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers to be. The Texans now have all the tools to make their decent quarterback a valuable weapon, as long as he’s playing when he’s in front. It took them a week of adjustments, mostly in their heads, to get over the injury to their best linebacker. Now, the Texans are alone in the driving seat of the AFC (6-1), and have actually made it through what might be the toughest stretch of two games they’ll have all season.

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