The Ravens have always picked certain teams to pick free agents from.  From the early part of the 2000s, the Ravens would usually snag players off of the Tennessee Titans. That gave way to big contributors on the Ravens’ playoff teams such as Steve McNair, Derrick Mason, and Samari Rolle.

There are teams that do a similar process to the Ravens as well.  The Browns and Jets are two teams who often look for Raven defensive players hitting free agency.  Washington, however, had been grabbing offensive linemen from the Ravens for quite a while in the late 2000s.

Lately the Ravens have been picking through two teams in particular: the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans.  You might also realize that those two are on the schedule back to back.  We handled the Jaguars last week and are now heading to Houston to reunite a lot of parties.

Gary Kubiak is going back to Houston for the first time since being fired last year from the Texans.  He was the head coach since 2006 and led the team to its only playoff appearances, but his disappointing 2-14 team last year (with a 14 game losing streak!) sealed his fate.  He’s always been known for an amazing offensive playbook for both passing and especially rushing.

The Ravens are already the 10th ranked offense in the league!  Not only that, they’re ranked 5th in the league in rushing, one year after that pathetic 30th ranked rushing offense.  There have been minor changes to the team on the surface, and mostly changes that made the team look worse on paper, rather than better.  The team essentially took out a multi-Pro Bowl player and replaced him with a journeyman of the same age.

Justin Forsett has already played against the Jaguars who had him last year.  He was on the Texans the year before (their last playoff season) languishing behind Arian Foster in the depth chart.  Now, he has a chance to shine in front of a home crowd that could have retained him.

Not only are Forsett and Kubiak coming back, but so are Owen Daniels and Jacoby Jones.  Daniels has openly said that he would like to have a big game against his former team (probably channeling his inner Steve Smith).  Jacoby is Jacoby, and with our large amount of wide receivers finding their own roles on the team, Jones may get some extending playing time in this game.

(Speaking of receivers, I thought it was weird that when the season started, the Ravens were keeping 7 wide receivers and only 4 cornerbacks.  Hindsight has shown that they should’ve done the opposite, but all of our receivers have contributed in some way.  Kamar Aiken, a 2nd year pro that is on his third team, has been prolific in both offense & special teams.  I hope the Ravens keep him around for a long time.)

Heads up play led to first punt block TD since 2003

Heads up play led to first punt block TD since 2003

This game means a lot to the Ravens as they could very well clinch a postseason berth this week!  If, by chance, following a Ravens win either the Steelers & Bengals lose, and/or the Chargers & Chiefs lose, then the Ravens are going to the playoffs.  Thankfully, the Chiefs & Steelers are playing each other, so one of the two will lose.  I’m hoping for a Chiefs win personally, as the Bengals will most likely fall to the Broncos on Monday night.

Picture this: the Ravens just need to win out and have the Bengals & Steelers lose at least one game each to win the division.  That’s all there is to it.  There’s a very slight chance the Ravens could get as high as the 3rd seed, that’s if they win the division and the Colts drop their last two games.

The Texans are pretty much out of the playoffs with a 7-7 record (same with the Browns, who will be next week’s opponent).  They will be starting their fourth quarterback this week, and they’re being secretive about who it will be.  It will either be Case Keenum (who filled in for Matt Schaub last year) or Thad Lewis (who started 5 games for the Bills last year).  I’m going with my gut in thinking that Keenum gets the call.  Keenum has the experience in the system and with the players.  Lewis is another running quarterback that is much more similar to Seneca Wallace than Russell Wilson.  The Ravens never seem to have any problems with quarterbacks that act as a running threat. (Yes, we did lose to RGIII’s Redskins in 2012, but that was after Griffin exited with an injury and Kirk Cousins came in to throw a winning touchdown.)

With everything looking the Ravens’ way this week, they should still not take the Texans for granted.  This is still a team that went virtually undefeated in 2012 for the first 12 games.  They haven’t had too much turnover compared to the Ravens’ roster of the same year.  Experience is always preferred to big free agent splashes, and the Texans’ core has been mostly intact.

The Ravens still have problems with their secondary, yet they may have just uncovered another undrafted gem.  When Asa Jackson went down with an injury, in came player Rashaan Melvin (#38 as everyone around town has referred to him).  What followed was 4 straight defensive stops all with #38 right there.  He very nearly had an interception on the last of those plays, which was a 4th down call from Jacksonville.  Things look bright for Mr. Melvin on this Ravens squad.

This Sunday will be the last warm-ish game for the Ravens this year.  If you’re traveling to the game, make sure to dress for December Texas weather.  Whatever the temperature, it would be very preferable over here.

Enjoy the game this Sunday, happy holidays, and go Ravens!

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-CW

Photos credit to facebook.com/baltimoreravens

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