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5. How tough will it be to stop the Texans' zone-stretch running play?
The Texans' running back tandem of Arian Foster and Ben Tate is the envy of most NFL teams.
Tate is a bruising back who has rushed for 148 yards on just 18 carries, averaging 8.2 yards per run.
Foster is a Pro Bowl talent who glides with an upright, all-purpose style. He has rushed for 136 yards and one touchdown on 37 attempts (3.7 yards per carry) this year.
The Texans have 292 yards overall on 56 carries, and their 146 rushing yards per game are third most in the league.
The Ravens, meanwhile, have been fairly stout against the run. They rank seventh in rushing defense, giving up 65 yards per game.
Texas' bread-and-butter is the zone-stretch run. The key to stopping it is penetrating the backfield, maintaining discipline in assignments and setting a strong edge with defensive ends and outside linebackers, who need to prevent Foster and Tate from reaching the perimeter and gaining momentum and yards.
Linebackers Courtney Upshaw, Terrell Suggs, and Daryl Smith and nose tackle Haloti Ngata are some of the Ravens' best run stoppers. All will need to be sound Sunday against a dangerous running game. Foster and Tate combined for 145 rushing yards and two touchdowns last season in the Texans' victory at Reliant Stadium.
October 21, 2012