Each Wednesday, blogger Matt Vensel will highlight five statistics that really mean something for the Ravens.
7.0 -- yards per attempt allowed by cornerback Jimmy Smith in his career, according to Pro Football Focus.
As I wrote yesterday, the Ravens lost a Pro Bowl performer when cornerback Lardarius Webb tore his ACL. Before he injured his knee, Webb was allowing an impressive 4.6 yards per attempt, which put him ahead of cornerbacks such as Charles Tillman (5.1), Cortland Finnegan (6.0), and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (6.4). Second-year player Jimmy Smith will replace Webb in the starting lineup, and while Smith was a first-round pick in 2011, there will probably be a drop-off. Last season, Smith allowed 6.5 yards per attempt on 37 targets. This season, he allowed 7.9 on 24. That was usually in the nickel, though. We’ll see if he fares better as a starter.
26 -- quarterback pressures by Texans defensive end J.J. Watt.
Ravens fans who watched the playoff game between the Ravens and Texans last season got a glimpse of the havoc that Watt can create, as the defensive end, who was then a rookie, recorded 2.5 sacks in a Ravens win. This year, he has been virtually unblockable at times. He has a league-leading 9.5 sacks in six games, which is incredible production for an interior defensive lineman who lines up like a defensive tackle at times. Besides the sacks, Watt also has five quarterback hits and 10 hurries, according to Pro Football Focus, and those 26 pressures are tops among interior defensive linemen. He has also batted down eight passes at the line, too.
six -- road games since the start of the 2011 season in which the Ravens did not score a single point during the first quarter.
You probably didn’t need statistics to tell you that the Ravens routinely start slowly on the road, but they do back up the eyeball test. Since the start of the 2011 regular season, including the playoffs, the Ravens have been held scoreless by their hosts in six of 11 road games. They have scored 44 first-quarter points in their past 11 road games, but take away the 21 they put up on the St. Louis Rams, and they had 23 in the 10 other games.
4,694 -- yards from scrimmage for Texans running back Arian Foster since the start of the 2010 season, 135 more than Ray Rice.
Sunday’s game between the Ravens and Texans will feature two of the NFL’s most productive running backs, Ray Rice and Arian Foster. Their statistics are eerily similar. In 38 regular-season games since 2010, Rice has 4,559 yards from scrimmage (3,066 rushing and 1,493 receiving). In 35 games, Foster has 4,694 (3,401 rushing and 1,293 receiving). That’s a difference of just 135 yards, though Foster missed three games in 2011. Overall, Foster has averaged 134.1 yards per scrimmage a game while Rice isn’t far behind him with 120.0. Maybe the biggest difference between the two? With 38 total touchdowns, Foster has found the end zone more often than Rice, who has scored 27.
51.6 -- percent chance that the Ravens will secure a first-round bye, according to odds from Football Outsiders.
Lost in all the doom and gloom in Sunday’s win was that they pulled another game ahead of a few of their key rivals. The Ravens have a two-game lead on the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have their own injury issues, and the Cincinnati Bengals. And they have a couple of games on the division leaders from the AFC East and the AFC West. If the season were to end today, they would be one of the top-two seeds in the AFC, and the playoff odds calculated by the fine folks at Football Outsiders, who base it on their DVOA statistic, predict that the Ravens will be able to hold on for one of the first-round byes, despite their injuries. In the 25,000 projections of the season they did after Week 6, the Ravens averaged 10.7 wins. There is an 82-percent chance they will win their division and they won the AFC in 28.7 percent of the projections, second to only the Houston Texans.
Bloggers note: Have a nifty stat you want to share? E-mail me at email@example.com or contact me on Twitter at @mattvensel. If I end up using it, I’ll be sure to give you a nice plug on the blog.