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Ravens Begin Preparing to Face Texans, Will Pivot if Needed

ILB Patrick Queen
ILB Patrick Queen

The work begins immediately for the Ravens' coaches, as they set course to face the Houston Texans in the divisional playoffs.

The Texans' 45-14 win over the Cleveland Browns, paired with the Miami Dolphins' 26-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, means the No. 4-seeded Texans are in line to come to M&T Bank Stadium next weekend.

That would only change if the No. 7-seeded Steelers upset the No. 2-seeded Buffalo Bills. That game was postponed from Sunday to Monday at 4:30 p.m. because of a snowstorm in upper New York.

Thus, the Ravens won't know for sure who they will face in the divisional round until Monday night. That won't stop them from getting a jump-start on Texans preparations, however.

"I think what we'll do is we'll look at the Saturday [Browns vs. Texans] game, and we'll assume that's our opponent," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Friday. "We'll snap into action after that, and we'll start working on that team. Then, if it changes, then we'll re-snap into action for the new opponent."

If the Steelers win Monday night, one benefit is that the Ravens just faced them a week ago and know them especially well considering they're division rivals. The Texans, given how much they've changed since Week 1, are a different story.

Before the Ravens knew their opponent, Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald and Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken continued doing interviews for openings around the league.

Now the coaches will lock into scouting and game-plan preparations with a better understanding of who they could face.

"'Lock in.' That's my advice, but they are. Those guys are locked in," Harbaugh said. "They're excited about where we're going as a team, and I think they just take the opportunities as they come. These are preliminary-type interviews, get-to-know-each-other-type interviews. It's great experience for those guys. I'm really happy for them, really proud of them."

The Ravens beat the Texans, 25-9, in Week 1 this season. The Ravens held C.J. Stroud to 242 yards passing and zero touchdowns, as he completed 28-of-44 passes but hit only one completions of 20 yards or more.

That was Stroud's first NFL start, however, and he's grown into one of the league's top quarterbacks already in his rookie season. Despite missing two games, Stroud finished No. 8 in passing yards (4,108) and led the league with a 23-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Stroud completed 16-of-21 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns in the Texans' wild-card win. The game turned on back-to-back pick sixes from Joe Flacco in the third quarter and Stroud, who became the youngest quarterback to ever win a playoff game, was yanked early.

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