After two weeks, the Texans stand 2-0 atop the AFC South. This week is a matchup against the Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams will be missing some key players, but this is sure to be a good game. Here is my preview and predictions for today’s game.
12:00 PM CT, September 22, 2013
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
You can stream the game live at NFL.com Live Stream.
After the first drive of the Titans game, the Texans struggled to move the ball consistently. Luckily for the Texans, Shane Lechler was able to bail them out consistently. That might not work today against a better Ravens team. The Texans will be without Duane Brown today. Ryan Harris will takeover Schaub’s blindside and that will be a key matchup today. Terrell Suggs will be lining up against Harris and the Ravens will likely bring extra pressure on the left side with Wade Smith struggling. Schaub isn’t mobile (hue understatement) and if the Texans O-line can’t handle the pressure, Schaub will be eating turf all day.
If the Texans find time for Schaub, look for a big day from both Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Though the Ravens held the Brown to just six points, Peyton Manning and the Broncos torched the Ravens secondary for seven touchdowns. Don’t expect seven touchdowns, but don’t expect zero either. Schaub looks to be comfortable with Hopkins, and last week could have been the start of relationship between the two.
The running game has been getting better week-to-week and they are expected to have a big test today against the Ravens front seven. With Duane Brown out the running game may suffer a bit. Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, and Haloti Ngata are the big names on the Ravens front seven and will be ready for the Arian Foster/Ben Tate combo. If the Texans can find early success in the running game, it could open up the play-action game which could come in handy today against the Ravens.
When you talk Ravens you talk Ray Rice. Today, Ray Rice is sitting and Bernard Pierce will start in his place. Though Pierce has been a good backup for the Ravens, he is still no Ray Rice. Pierce has averaged just 2.8 yards per carry this season and isn’t much of a factor in the passing game. The Texans D-line struggled a bit against Chris Johnson last week, but may have more success against a bigger and less-elusive back like Pierce.
Joe Flacco hasn’t found much success through two weeks this season. Just 573 passing yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Though Torrey Smith is Flacco’s favorite target, Marlon Brown has two of Flacco’s three touchdowns. Both receivers have lots of speed and both Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson will be busy today. Ed Reed is starting today and will be playing the “center field” position at safety.
The pass rush will be important for the Texans to have success. At times the defense has looked outstanding but other times they been walked over like a welcome mat. The pass rush has been the difference maker for the defense for the first two games. When J.J. Watt and the others can get the quarterback flustered, the defense has been stout. If Flacco has plenty of time to throw, it could be a long day for the Texans secondary. Look for Wade Phillips to bring extra pressure since the Ravens are without Ray Rice. Rice is great at picking up blitzes, but with Rice out Pierce will have to protect Flacco and the Texans will look to exploit that matchup.
Score: Texans – 31 – Ravens – 20
- Texans defense combines for six sacks and two interceptions, 1 INT by Ed Reed
- Arian Foster and Ben Tate combine for 175 yards and two scores
- Matt Schaub‘s lone TD goes to Owen Daniels
- DeAndre Hopkins racks up 8 catches and 103 yards
- Ray Lewis‘ name is mentioned over 10 times.
What do you think Texans fans? Sound off in the comments below or tweet me @YoniPollak.