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Home for the playoffs?

The road to the Super Bowl goes through Houston: Texans grab huge advantage by destroying Ravens

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Houston Texans could get used to this. The Texans are in the driver's seat for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs at the season's halfway point. Photo by © Michelle Watson/
Arian Foster Ravens
Arian Foster and the Texans are rolling, emerging as the NFL's most dominant team. Photo by © Michelle Watson/
Texans fans Ravens
Arian Foster Ravens

The Houston Texans waited more than 280 days to get another shot at the Baltimore Ravens.

Thanks to the force of that shot — powered by all the pent-up fury of getting knocked out of the playoffs despite their defense controlling the game — anyone else who wants to take a shot at the Super Bowl in the AFC could have to do it through Houston.

Texans 43, Ravens 13. Let the home playoff games roll?

 Few teams in any conference can put on the type of show Houston did Sunday, one enjoyed by the largest regular season crowd in Texans franchise history (71,708). 

It's not too early for Texans fans to get excited about some home cooking in the playoffs. The prospect of Gary Kubiak's team securing homefield advantage throughout the playoffs — and only having to win twice at a ruckus Reliant Stadium in the postseason to make the Super Bowl in New Orleans is more real than ever.

The Texans (6-1) now essentially have at least a two-game lead over every other team in the AFC by virtue of this emphatic tiebreaker advantage over the 5-2 Ravens. No other team in the conference is better than 4-3.

And few teams in any conference can put on the type of show Houston did Sunday, one enjoyed by the largest regular season crowd in Texans franchise history (71,708). That throng gave the Texans a standing ovation as they walked off the field at halftime holding a 29-3 lead.

Remember, the Ravens are one of the best teams in the AFC, one of the bigger threats to the Texans' Super Bowl dreams, the team that knocked Houston out of the playoffs last January.

That game happened on the road and these Texans seem determined to make sure they're home for the entire playoffs instead this January.

"This game is huge for what it can do for us in AFC," defensive end Antonio Smith said in the days leading up to the explosion.

There is huge — and then there's a 30-point beating of your new rival, a team you've never beaten before. 

The Texans didn't just beat John Harbaugh's squad this time. They completely sapped the will of Joe Flacco and Co. Houston racked up 422 yards while holding the Ravens to 176, more than doubled them in first downs (27 to 12), scored 29 straight points after falling down 3-0.

Four different Texans scored touchdowns. Four different defenders deflected a Flacco pass. Quarterback Matt Schaub posted a nifty 100.7 rating, throwing for 256 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Tailback Arian Foster rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Andre Johnson had nine catches.

J.J. Watt set up another interception.

Yes, these Texans want to be home.

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