DeMeco Ryans stated that the Houston Texans are a “different team” than they were four months ago, when they faced the Baltimore Ravens in the season opener.

One would have to assume he’s telling the truth. Houston defeated 25-9 after giving up 15 points in the third quarter. The franchise began 0-2 before embarking on a 10-5 run to win its first division championship in four years.

Ryans, a former Pro Bowl linebacker and favorite to win the NFL Coach of the Year award, was not alone in his theory. Another Pro Bowl defender expressed similar comments on Tuesday after practice.

“They’re definitely improved, but so are we when you look at it,” said Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith. “The offense is definitely clicking, but we wouldn’t want it any other way. We’re prepared for it, and we’re ready to go to war regardless of who it’s against, and they’re the team that’s coming in here. Business is business handled.”

Sep 10, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce (31) is tackled by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Ronald Darby (28) during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The version of Houston that took the field at M&T Bank Stadium in September no longer exists. It’s a roster that’s proven time after time it can withstand whatever’s hurled at its head and remain steadfast on the end goal.

Ryans was making his head coaching debut. The same goes for rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud under center. Since then, Stroud and Ryans have learned from their mistakes and become vital to the team’s success.

“I feel like they’re a whole different team. C.J.’s a whole different QB,” Ravens edge rusher Odafe Oweh said. “I feel like we matured him and he’s been balling ever since. I have a lot of respect for him. In the playoffs, obviously, people play harder. So we have to come with a different energy as well.”

Stroud completed 28 of 44 pass attempts for 242 yards while being sacked five times and losing a fumble in the fourth quarter. His 5.5 yards per attempt was the second-lowest mark of the season.

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