- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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1. Tough against the run. The second-seeded Ravens (12-4) know the third-seeded Texans (11-6) will run the ball after Houston handed it off 59 percent of the time against the Bengals in today's wild-card game. Baltimore has a strong history of shutting down the run, and this season was no different. The Ravens finished ranked No. 2 in run defense, giving up 92.6 yards on the ground. Only five defenses allowed fewer rushing touchdowns than Baltimore this season. In the previous meeting with the Texans this season, the Ravens limited Houston to 93 yards rushing and held Arian Foster to 3.3 yards per carry.
2. Pass protection will be a major factor. One of the reasons why the Texans beat the Bengals was their ability to pressure the quarterback and protect their own. After giving up seven sacks in San Diego, Baltimore allowed just two sacks of Joe Flacco over the final two games of the regular season. In the previous meeting, the Ravens shut out Connor Barwin, Antonio Smith and J.J. Watt. On defense, the Ravens led the AFC with 48 sacks and need to get more pressure on Texans rookie quarterback T.J. Yates than the Bengals did. Baltimore sacked Matt Schaub four times when the Ravens beat Houston on Oct. 16.
3. Dominant at home. The Ravens put themselves in position to host a playoff game for the first time in five years by going undefeated at home for the first time in their 16-year existence. Baltimore roughed up teams at M&T Bank Stadium, where it won by double digits five times this season. One of those times was a 29-14 victory over the Texans when they had Schaub at quarterback. The Ravens have won 10 consecutive games at M&T Bank Stadium, the second-longest current home win streak in the NFL.
2hEric D. Williams