The Houston Texans have made it through this far without a loss thanks to two impressive comebacks. The Baltimore Ravens look nothing like Super Bowl champions, but should do slightly better with each week as they get used to the lack of veterans on defense that has to be affecting the leadership situation in the locker room and on the field.
The Ravens began the season by getting blown out in Denver, and didn’t have the best of games against the Cleveland Browns. But last season wasn’t filled with incredible performances until they reached the playoffs, giving them a bit more confidence that not all is lost just yet.
Joe Flacco has been a problem, completing 58.9% of his passes and throwing a couple of interceptions, while especially struggling when throwing the deep ball. He is only 2-of-14 when trying to hit targets 20 yards or more downfield (14.3%), compared with his 48.3% success rate last season. Having a limited set of options to throw to (mostly Torrey Smith so far) is probably one of the main reasons.
The injury to Ray Rice is also going to take a toll on the Ravens. Rice might not be the runner he used to be a season and a bit ago, but he’s excellent in the passing game and few backs block as efficiently as he does. Bernard Pierce is averaging only 2.8 yards per carry, which is nowhere near enough to give this team the offensive help it needs.
For the Texans, they have their own set of offensive problems. The running game is fine – Arian Foster is coming back, running for 79 yards on his second game of the season. Ben Tate is doing even better with less carries, averaging 8.2 yards per carry so far this season, helping Matt Schaub set up the pieces before touchdowns. However, Schaub himself is hoping that Andre Johnson will be healthy and available.
DeAndre Hopkins is a fine option to throw to, but without Johnson, it’s back to step 1 in terms of not having offensive variety besides and option or two to throw at.
Prediction – The Texans aren’t perfect, but they have more talent on defense than the Ravens do, which should give them the edge against Flacco who struggles beating secondary units this season, while having a stagnant running game up to this point.