As most predicted, the Houston Texans are 2-0 headed into their seemingly annual game against the Baltimore Ravens. It may not have been as easy of a road to get there undefeated as most might have predicted, but you are what your record says you are.
While many already have their doom and gloom predictions about this season, they’re quite optimistic about this game for some reason. The Ravens have looked inept on offense through two games, and were absolutely dismantled against Peyton Manning.
Both teams have struggled for long stretches to start the season, and Houston is currently a two-point road favorite to get the win at M&T Stadium, a place they have never won at before. But these two teams are incredibly well matched, and I expect another close game that comes down to just a couple of possessions.
The biggest thing to watch for this week is who is actually active for it. Ray Rice is fighting a hip flexor injury, and the team says he should be fine, but who knows. Andre Johnson is coming off of concussion protocols and is also probable. But the story that is getting all the local run is that left tackle Duane Brown was in a walking boot yesterday with turf toe, and his status is unknown at the moment for this Sunday.
With the matchup of Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs possibly facing off against Derek Newton and Ryan Harris, it might not be the best day for Matt Schaub. So I fully expect to see a healthy dose of Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
However, the national story of this game is that Ed Reed is likely to make his Texans debut. It might be a coincidence that it’s against the team that he will enter the NFL Hall of Fame with, but the national reporters love a story like that.
Fans have circled this game for some time now as the one they thought he would return in. I don’t quite get that because there’s no revenge factor here for Reed. He left on great terms, the fans still love him and he won a Super Bowl with them just eight months ago. He has nothing to prove against Baltimore, and it has now come out that the team almost activated him for the Tennessee game last week.
Regardless, the secondary could use him this week. Joe Flacco has struggled to start the season, but he has burned the Texans a few times in the past with long throws. I wrote yesterday about how the secondary for Houston hasn’t been as bad as it seems, but they have been privy to giving up the big pass through the first two weeks.
They don’t need Reed to be a revelation, but he might be the only guy in the secondary that is capable of actually pulling down an interception. He will still be brought along slowly, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him play only about 3-4 series in the game.
It feels odd to call any game in September a must-win, but it feels like it for both teams. Houston is looking at a murderer’s row of Seattle and San Francisco after this game, and neither looks to be a good matchup on paper for them. If they can’t make it through this three-game stretch without picking up a win in at least one of them, they’ll have that feeling of a dead team walking even if they win the AFC South again.
I fully expect a sloppy game and a lot of running the football. As always, winning the turnover battle will not only be the key, but the Texans must capitalize on them and succeeding when given excellent field position, unlike last week.