Kickoff: Monday, Nov. 27, 8:30 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium
TV: ESPN | WBAL-TV (Ch. 11)
TV Crew: Sean McDonough (play-by-play), John Gruden (analyst), Lisa Salters (sideline)
Radio: 98 Rock | WBAL-1090 AM | Westwood One
Local Radio Crew: Gerry Sandusky (play-by-play), Stan White (analyst), Justin Forsett (analyst)
National Radio Crew: Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Boomer Esiason (analyst), Ross Tucker (sideline)
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Jersey Color: Black Jersey & Black Pants
Referee Crew: Brad Allen
The Ravens can take another step forward in their pursuit of an AFC wild-card spot with a win over the Texans. According to Football Outsiders, the Ravens have the best odds (73 percent) of claiming the sixth and final postseason bid. The Texans have the third-best odds (10 percent). Thus, Baltimore can claim another key conference win and knock down a challenger. A loss would dash the good vibes the Ravens picked up in a shutout victory in Green Bay last week.
The Ravens have a 6-2 regular-season record against the Texans, but have split their last four meetings. Each team has held court on its home turf. The Ravens lost in Houston in 2012 and 2014, but won in Baltimore in 2011 and 2013. Their games have been lopsided over that stretch (decided by an average of 20 points).
Baltimore’s Defensive Dominance
The Ravens are coming off their third shutout of the season, and are facing yet another backup quarterback in Tom Savage. Savage struggled in his first two games starting in place of injured Deshawn Watson, as he threw two interceptions and lost three fumbles. Last week against Arizona, however, Savage threw for 230 yards, completed nearly 70 percent of his passes and threw two touchdowns. He still turned the ball over twice with one pick and another lost fumble. Can the Ravens defense feast on another backup?
Ravens Offensive Line
Despite having more weapons on the field after the bye, specifically running back Danny Woodhead, the offense still stumbled a bit in Green Bay. It didn’t capitalize on turnovers as much as it should have. That, however, was in part because starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley was sidelined by a concussion. If Stanley is able to suit up on Monday night, it will be the healthiest the offense has been in a long while.
Primetime Is Showtime
The Ravens have won nine consecutive home primetime games. Since 2008, the Ravens are 11-1 (the best mark in the league) on primetime at M&T Bank Stadium. However, it’s just the second home Monday Night Football game during the Head Coach John Harbaugh era (the Ravens played a league-high 11 on the road). The stadium will be rocking, fueled by the team breaking out their all-black uniforms and a blackout in the stands, and the players will be fired up.
Matchups to Watch
CB Jimmy Smith vs. WR DeAndre Hopkins
Smith is still graded as the NFL’s best cover cornerback this year. Now he’ll go against one of the league’s top wide receivers in Houston’s Hopkins. Hopkins is third in the NFL in receiving yards (879), tied for fifth in receptions (62) and first in targets (117). Whoever covers Hopkins will be tested.
LT Ronnie Stanley vs. OLB Jadeveon Clowney
Clowney is starting to become the beast everybody envisioned when he was the top pick in 2014. He’s slowly improved every year, and has taken the next step this season with eight sacks and two forced fumbles. At 6-foot-5, 270 pounds, he’s an athletic freak. The Ravens are hoping to have Stanley back on the field. If not, James Hurst will have his hands full.
OLB Terrell Suggs vs. LT Chris Clark
Suggs is perhaps the Raven who most loves playing on primetime at home. He’s had many big games over the years under the lights. Suggs is coming off a two-sack day in Green Bay, and now he’ll face one of the worst-graded left tackles in the game in Clark. According to Pro Football Focus, Clark has particularly struggled over the past four games and has given up four sacks this season.