Ravens-Texans: The Three Keys

I love 4 p.m. start times. Late enough for you to sleep in a bit, relax in the morning and watch the 1 p.m. games, and not too late that when you leave the press box after the game, it's not 2 a.m.

Oh, does that just apply to me?

The Ravens host the Texans this afternoon in a big AFC battle, and with games against the lowly Jaguars and Cardinals the next two weeks, John Harbaugh's crew can set themselves up for a possible 6-1 start with a win today.

Here are three keys to today's game from the Ravens' perspective:

1. Focus on Foster

We all know the threat that Arian Foster is in the running game. Heck, the guy led the league in rushing last year. But Foster is also a playmaker when he gets the ball in his hands in the passing game. The third-year running back had five catches for 115 yards last week against the Raiders, and with the Texans still missing wide receiver Andre Johnson (who is out with a hamstring injury), they'll be looking for other guys to step up when quarterback Matt Schaub drops back to pass. Given Foster's open-field abilities and Houston's situation at wide receiver, the Ravens would be wise to have eyes on the Texans' running back at all times.

2. Get Torrey back on track

If Lee Evans' ankle injury is going to continue to be an issue - and it looks like it will - then Torrey Smith has to step up and make some type of consistent contribution to the Ravens' offense. Smith had that huge Week 3 game against the Rams where he recorded five catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns, but he had just one catch for one yard the following week against the Jets. Anquan Boldin, Ray Rice and the tight ends can't do it all by themselves; Smith needs to carry some of the load in the passing game, as well.

3. No lead is safe

Remember last year, when the Ravens were up 21-0 and then 28-7 over the Texans only to see Houston come storming back in the second half and send the game to overtime? Yeah, the guys in the Ravens' locker room do, as well. Baltimore is well aware that the Texans can put up points in a hurry and come back from any deficit, so they'll keep attacking if they get a lead today. No lead is safe and no amount of points is too many against this Houston team. The Ravens learned that the hard way last year.

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