Ravens seek to improve their position in playoff race as they face Watson-less Texans
The Baltimore Ravens thrive under the bright lights and they can strengthen their position in the AFC playoff race with a victory over the Houston Texans on Monday night at M&T Bank Stadium.
Since coach John Harbaugh took over the team in 2008, Baltimore has gone 11-1 in night games -- the best mark in the NFL. The Ravens (5-5) have also won nine consecutive prime-time matchups, also the longest streak in the NFL.
"It is historic," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said about playing Monday night. "Growing up, I think we all watched Monday Night Football. It was always exciting. It was a big part of the week. We are looking forward to it."
The Texans (4-6) are trying to stay afloat without starting quarterback Deshaun Watson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice earlier this month. As a result, backup Tom Savage will get his fifth start of the season against a Ravens' secondary that leads the NFL with 16 interceptions.
"I think one of the main emphases -- and it really is a point of emphasis every week -- is ball security," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said.
"That is something that against the Ravens, you better make sure you take care of the football. Whoever is carrying the ball, obviously throwing the ball, everything (is important). That is one of the biggest stats in our game today -- that turnover-takeaway ratio. We have to do a great job in that area."
Baltimore, which holds the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC, has not played at M&T Bank Stadium since a 44-0 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 26. Now, the Ravens have a chance to win consecutive games for the first time since the opening two weeks of the season and go a game above .500 since Week 5.
It's also Baltimore's first Monday night home game since the 2012 regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"We've got to keep getting these wins," linebacker Terrell Suggs said.
"If we win six out of these next seven, we have a good chance of getting in. I don't care if we give up 19 points, 35 points; as long as we are winning games, we will take that. We've had shutouts and then we've come back after games and not played so well."
The Ravens face a backup quarterback for the second consecutive game. Last Sunday against the Packers, Baltimore kept the pressure on quarterback Brett Hundley, who threw three interceptions. The Ravens will have the same game plan against Savage.
Baltimore leads the NFL with 16 interceptions.
Savage lost his first two starts when Watson went down with the injury. However, he was better last week against the Arizona Cardinals, going 22 of 32 for 230 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a 31-21 victory.
O'Brien is confident that Savage is making strides.
"I think he is getting better. I think the game on Sunday is probably the best game he has played since he has been playing for us," O'Brien said.
"He does not have a ton of experience, so every game that he plays, it is really important for him to remember the things that went on during that game, so he can really use that experience to get better every single day and every game. I thought he did a good job of having a short memory on Sunday, and he really made some big plays for us to help us win the game."
The Ravens hope to have left tackle Ronnie Stanley back in the lineup from a concussion. The offensive line struggled to protect Joe Flacco last week against the Packers. As a result, Flacco resorted to mostly check-downs because of the constant pressure. Stanley remained in the concussion protocol this week.
Houston is ranked 26th against the pass, so Flacco will take some shots downfield, despite having the league's 32nd-ranked passing offense.
"I think this offense, as a whole, we've been a little frustrated this year," Flacco said. "So, I think that goes for everybody. We haven't played as well as we wanted to, and that leads to a little bit of frustration. But, we're working through that as quickly as possible."