Aug 17, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans safety Ed Reed (20) talks with cornerback A.J. Bouye (34) before the game against the Miami Dolphins at Reliant Stadium. The Texans defeated the Dolphins 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Greetings Texans Fans!
It’s Friday, and the weekend battle in Baltimore is rushing towards us.
A rematch for which Houston has a lot to overcome in order to join Kansas City in the ranks of the undefeated teams in the NFL. There is going to be a lot of emotion on the Baltimore side of the ball. Ed Reed will suit up it looks like, and will once again patrol the field he called home for so long.
This should make the crowd frenzied just from that, then toss in some Ray Lewis love plus oh… revenge for last years shellacking at the hands of the Texans, well it should be a tough win for Houston. Never underestimate a team when emotions are on their side, see the Indianapolis Colts last year for a perfect example.
Joe Flacco and Co. have one devastatingly bad loss to the Broncos and an underwhelming win over the hapless Cleveland Browns so far this season, for an inauspicious start to their reign as defending World Champions. Taking down the Texans would get them back in the conversation of Super Bowl contenders again this year and quiet some of the doubt now surrounding the team. They have new faces, new looks and what insight Reed has on the Ravens well, you can bet Ravens head coach John Harbaugh will take that in consideration and plan accordingly.
That’s not to say the Texans aren’t without hope. I anticipate the Texans bringing the fight to the Ravens as they too have somethings prove.
First, of course, is winning without the “heart attack” inducing late game heroics. Going to Baltimore, winning convincingly on both sides of the ball for four quarters is almost a requirement here. While momentum is more bull than real, next week Houston hosts the high flying Seattle Seahawks followed by a little trip to San Francisco. These three games are the toughest three games in succession Houston has this side of the playoffs. Wins will come at a premium.
Look for Wade Phillips to dial up the attack on Flacco while the Ravens go to the air with running back Ray Rice questionable for Sunday. He will probably play, however, it won’t be at 100-percent.
If the Ravens do rely on Flacco’s arm, look for them to challenge Keo and Jackson, early and often. Speaking of Kareem Jackson. he has had some challenges early this season, these next three games will define his season. If he reverts to Kareem of 201o instead of building on his much improved play in 2012 the Texans are going to have a long day Sunday.
How can Baltimore win? Here’s how.
Rice surprises us by being at 100-percent as the Ravens ride the wave of emotions surrounding this game for them to victory. Super Joe Flacco shows up and plays like it’s the 2012 playoffs while the defense plays as if Lewis and Reed were there on the field. While wide receiver Jacoby Jones will definitely not play, the other wide receivers make up for the loss. Baltimore is on the ropes early into this season, with everything to lose here they should play with a lot of drive.
How can Houston win? Here’s how.
Get ahead and stay ahead. Does it really need be more complex than that?
Two games this year against opponents Houston should beat were needlessly dramatic. With the rise of DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson set to play, this game should be a coming out party for a legit two receiver aerial display by quarterback Matt Schaub.
In fact, I almost suspect they’ll test the Ravens passing defense before they test their run defense. Look for Schaub to throw a lot of passes early, and the run game will merely be to set up a long bomb play action goodness we’ve sorely missed these last few games. As state above, if the Ravens do try to go to the air J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing will have plenty of chances to ground them.
This one is tough. The fan in me says Houston has it, but the analyst is looking across the field knowing the intangibles at play make this a toss up at best, a looming loss at worst. This game we must rely on the “Wild A** Guess” meter, and it’s pegged to a great big question mark. But my predictions is:
Houston 23, Baltimore 20 in a close match.