Below Average Joe!

Posted: January 14, 2012 by Kodi in NFL

The Houston Texans continue their playoff battle against the Baltimore Ravens

T.J. Yates gets a lot of flack after becoming the starter but is Joe any better?

Flacco makes the playoffs every year but his performance is often lacking

The Houston Texans welcomed the Cincinnati Bengals to Reliant Stadium where the team won their very first playoff appearance defeating them 31-10 the largest margin of victory in all 4 Wild Card games. The game completely swung in Houston’s favor after rookie DE J.J. Watt intercepted an Andy Dalton pass and returned it for a touchdown. He was just the 7th defensive lineman to return an interception for a touchdown in the playoffs and the first rookie ever. Arian Foster had a great day rushing for over 150 yards and 2 touchdowns while Andre Johnson returned and caught 5 balls for 90 yards and another score.

Baltimore has faced the Texans 5 times and the Ravens have won all the previous match-ups against Houston. The last time they met was week 6 of this season and Houston was without WR Andre Johnson but did have a 14-13 lead in the 2nd half. The Ravens would score the next 15 points unanswered and the Texans dropped to 3-3 on the season. Houston went on a 7 game winning streak after that loss while the Ravens had their biggest dud of the season falling 12-7 to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday Night Football. In that game the Texans allowed the Ravens to rush for 113 yards and didn’t allow another team to break the century mark until week 12 and have held teams under 100 rushing yards in 8 of their last 11 games including last week’s big win over the Bengals.

The 4th ranked rush defense held Bengals RB Cedric Benson to 14 yards on 7 carries and gave up just 76 rushing yards in total. Houston dominated the running game but also forced Andy Dalton to throw 3 total interceptions and passed for just over 250 yards. The Baltimore Ravens have had one of the best defenses in the NFL for over a decade but the Texans are statistically better. Both defenses are ranked in the top 5 stopping the run and the pass but Houston allowed less total yards although the Ravens gave up 12 less points. With the injuries to the Matts, Leinart and Schaub, on the Texans we will be forced to see a playoff game pinning rookie T.J. Yates against 4th year man out of Delaware Joe Flacco.

Flacco is the first QB in NFL history to start in a single playoff game in their first 4 seasons and he has won at least a single postseason matchup in his 3 previous seasons. Flacco Has won 4 of the 7 games he has led the Ravens in but his postseason numbers are extremely lackluster. He has thrown for over 189 yards just once, completed more than 57% of his passes just once and has thrown for 0 touchdowns in 4 of the 7 games while only throwing multiple touchdowns once. In 7 games Flacco has completed 53% of his passes for 1050 yards, 4 touchdowns and 7 interceptions posting a QB rating of 61.6 During the regular season Flacco averages a completion percentage above 60 with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Flacco’s numbers shouldn’t scare anyone and he has had a nearly identical season to Andy Dalton and we saw what the Bulls on Parade did to him.

There are a bunch of people who question the ability of rookie QB T.J. Yates and I am one of them but how come there aren’t more people calling out Flacco? When you look at the final 5 regular season games between the two the numbers are a lot closer than one would think. Yates is 82-134 throwing for 949 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions with a QB rating of 80.9. Flacco is 82-131 with 873 yards, 7 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and a QB rating of 80.9. Yates was athe 153rd overall selection and third string back-up until he was forced into the starting lineup due to two season ending injuries. Joe Flacco was the 18th overall pick who just finished his 4th complete season with 59 more games of experience than Yates, yet I would feel more comfortable with the rookie than the hopeless Flacco.

You would think that the Ravens would rely on RB Ray Rice in the postseason games that Flacco’s number are so poor but that isn’t the case. In Baltimore’s last 3 postseason game Rice has rushed the ball 42 times for 156 yards and just a single rushing touchdown, Foster had better numbers in his only playoff appearance. Rice has added 134 receiving yards and another score through the air but he will have his work cut out for his facing a stout Houston rush defense. Rice is coming off of his best regular season rushing 291 times for 1364 yards, 12 touchdowns, catching another 76 balls for 704 yards and an additional 3 receiving touchdowns. Rice had over 2000 yards from scrimmage and scored 15 touchdowns and he will likely be the focal point of Baltimore’s offense as he should be.

Baltimore is a great team but so is Houston and this is likely going to become a battle of elite RB’s, solid defenses and mediocre QB’s. Houston however has history on their side as every other expansion team during their first postseason has made at least the Conference Championship. I am going to take a gamble and say that Houston’s defense is the lesser known defense but I think that Baltimore’s age may show against a flashy team like the Texans and their QB won’t be able to bail them out. I am taking the Houston Texans in a close battle 21-20 but wouldn’t be surprised if Baltimore steps up at home.

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