- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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A weekly examination of the Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback play:
Rewind: Joe Flacco shook off a sluggish start and got on track in the second half against the Cleveland Browns, completing 10 of 12 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. After halftime, he stopped trying the jump ball passes and picked on the Browns' second and third corners (Chris Owens and Buster Skrine). That meant throwing more to Marlon Brown and Brandon Stokley, who combined for seven catches for 69 yards in the second half. Flacco was efficient in the shotgun, going 15-for-21 (71.4 percent) for 139 yards.
Fast-forward: Flacco is 4-1 for his career (including playoffs) against the Houston Texans, but he'll be looking to avenge one of his worst outings from last season. It was almost a year ago against the Texans when Flacco was 21-of-43 (48.8 percent) for 147 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions (one was deflected and returned 52 yards for a touchdown). He was also sacked four times, one of which resulted in a safety. His 0.3 Total QBR for that game was the worst of any quarterback in five seasons.
By the numbers: Flacco was 0-for-5 on passes thrown more than 20 yards downfield against the Browns, according to ESPN Stats & Information. This shouldn't come as a surprise. One of his deep threats, Jacoby Jones, is sidelined with a knee injury, and Torrey Smith is getting double-teamed with Anquan Boldin in San Francisco. All of the blame can't be placed on Flacco. Brown let a 32-yard pass go off his fingertips in the end zone, and Smith bobbled a long touchdown pass as well.
Prediction: The Ravens could be without running back Ray Rice, who is dealing with a hip injury. And, with the struggles of the Ravens' ground game, Baltimore will rely on Flacco to carry the offense again. His effectiveness at home is also a factor. Since the start of the 2012 season, Flacco has averaged 286 yards passing in nine home games with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. Expect him to put up quality numbers.
5hEric D. Williams