At the beginning of the season today’s game seemed like one of the Texans biggest tests of the year. While it still is clearly a huge obstacle to overcome as they are the only other team in the AFC above .500, they are not going to be running at full strength today.
The biggest name that is out is linebacker and defensive captain, Ray Lewis. Since Lewis entered the league his name became synonymous with Baltimore, and while he may not have the longest consecutive games played record, he does lead the league in games played among active players. To play the Ravens without Ray Lewis today is bittersweet. You always want to beat a team when they are at their best and the Ravens are definitely not better with Ray Lewis sitting on the bench.
Instead of Lewis the Texans wills see Jameel McClain at linebacker and it will be interesting to see how he fills the running lanes against the likes of Foster and Tate.
If Lewis was the only player of importance to go down for the Ravens they may still be the favorites. However, they also lost their blossoming young corner, Ladarius Webb. Like Lewis Webb is gone for the season and that could spell trouble for a secondary that isn’t necessarily as deep as they’d like. With Webb out you should expect to see the Texans come out with a gameplan similar to the one they employed in Denver where they used the passing game early and took advantage of opportunities down the field.
The best player other than Ray Lewis to ever put on a Ravens jersey is dealing with an injury of his own, as Ed Reed revealed earlier this week that he has a torn shoulder labrum. Reed is going to be able to go this week, so the Texans didn’t get too lucky, but perhaps there is some hope that Reed at 70% is not quite as dominating as him at 100%. That being said, there have been some whispers about letting Reed do what he does best and get in the open field with the ball in his hands as a punt returner, if that happens it could be a long day for a struggling Texans special teams.
Finally, it looks as if Terrell Suggs will suit up for the Ravens on Sunday and any time a team gets last year’s Defensive Player of the Year back, it’s a huge spark for the team. While it’s unlikely Suggs has a huge day as it is unlikely he’ll be on the field for significant snaps, if they use him as a situational pass rusher he could prove to be a pest for a Houston offensive line that struggled last week against the Packers.