A key AFC clash will kick off the seventh NFL Sunday of 2012 as the reeling Baltimore Ravens will limp into Houston to take on what’s certain to be an angry Texans team.
After the season began with such optimism in Baltimore, with their no-huddle attack and reliable defense, it all seems on the verge of unraveling at the moment. Despite sitting comfortably entering this contest with a solid 5-1 record, they’ve overachieved of late and have been getting decimated by injuries. Baltimore’s run defense has been atrocious over the past few weeks, and going up against Arian Foster this week seems like a mismatch for the ages. Against the Cowboys last week, Baltimore was lucky to emerge victorious and were absolutely manhandled at the line of scrimmage. On the injury front, both Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb are said to be gone for the season, while Ed Reed is battling a torn labrum. Both players are massive losses and aren’t replaceable, although the Ravens may receive a bit of a break as they could welcome back linebacker Terrell Suggs this week. Suggs has had an extremely quick recovery from an Achilles injury, and will be a game-time decision against Houston.
For the Texans, it was all going so well until they met the Green Bay Packers last week at the wrong time. Houston was throttled against an angry and motivated Packers squad that embarrassed them on national television. Now, with the top position in the AFC on the line, it’s Houston’s turn to be the angry side and prove to the league, their opening games were no fluke. The Texans have lost their star linebacker Brian Cushing to a torn ACL, and it showed last week against the Packers. Now they’ll need to focus on slowing down a potentially explosive Ravens attack. One key injury to watch for this contest is the status of Houston cornerback, Jonathan Joseph. Joseph will be listed as a game-time decision, and if he can’t go it’s a big loss for the Texans secondary especially considering the deep-ball threats on the Ravens.
Ravens vs. Texans Spread & Betting Odds:
Baltimore Ravens +7 (-110)
@ Houston Texans -7 (-110)
Over 48.5 (-110)
Under 48.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Ravens vs. Texans Pick:
After a horrific outing against the Packers, the Texans will be raring to go to quiet the naysayers after that contest. Houston was gashed on defense, and struggled to move the ball against a suspect Packers’ defense. Let’s chalk last week’s performance to a mediocre night at the office, because this Houston team is for real and they’ll be ready to prove it Sunday afternoon.
Though the Ravens sit with a 5-1 record, it’s a tad misleading. This team has struggled defensively of late, and have a serious of narrow escapes against supposedly inferior squads. Their defense has major questions, looks old and slow, and when you factor in that they just lost their leader Ray Lewis and key cornerback Lardarius Webb, it isn’t looking pretty in Baltimore. And while it may seem drastic to suggest a Baltimore team is one of the worst defensive units in the NFL right now, their play certainly lends credence to that theory. The Ravens were steamrolled by the run last week versus the Cowboys, and look for Houston to give this hurting a defense a steady dose of Arian Foster. They gave up 200 yards on the ground to both of Kansas City and Dallas, and look for that to occur again when they duel the Texans.
Moreover, with the wealth of injuries plaguing this Baltimore team, they no longer possess a legitimate shutdown corner. Matt Schaub should be able to exploit this, as should Pro-Bowl receiver Andre Johnson. The Texans are typically a run-first team, but with the uncertainties associated with the Baltimore defense, look for Houston to diversify their attack and really put a hurting on a struggling Ravens defense.
It’s just too difficult to back the Baltimore Ravens right now when their defense is so decimated. Though they could get Terrell Suggs back for this game, it remains to be seen just how effective he’ll be in his first game back. Baltimore remains a prideful bunch, and a playoff team, but going against an angry Texans squad adamant on using this game to make a statement, don’t expect the Ravens to keep it close. Houston will have no difficulty moving the football, and the Texans defense remains one of the premier units in the league. Look for an inspired outing out of the Texans en route to a big victory in front of their hometown fans.
PICK = Texans -7 (-110)