The Houston Texans are pushing to go 3 and 0 for the second time in as many seasons when they travel to Baltimore to face their AFC foe, the Ravens. There is much to make of this game, especially with the new look Ravens taking the field with plenty of familiar faces no longer with the team.
Still the defending Super Bowl champions, the Texans will have to go into hostile territory to prove they can perform away from Reliant Stadium.
Here is our Gameday Prep for Sunday.
- The Texans have been playing with the turnover margin during the season and are currently -2 for the season. The defense has only caused one turnover while the offense is responsible for three interceptions. Turnovers are key and the Texans need to start getting that knack for getting the football back.
- Big plays. The Texans defense has to prevent the Ravens offense from getting vertical on them, especially with the speed that Torrey Smith possesses on the outside.
- Injuries mean nothing at this point for the Ravens. The Ravens are banged up and could be missing some key players. This still makes the Ravens a dangerous team, especially at home.
- If Duane Brown (Turf Toe) is out for the game, Derek Newton and Ryan Harris will be keys for the Texans offense. Pass protection will be key. With the Ravens' front 7 still a good group with the likes of Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, the Ravens can still push the pocket. It will be up to the two offensive tackles to give Matt Schaub time to survey the field. If Newton and Harris can put together good games, it could be a good afternoon for the Texans. (Let's hope Duane Brown finds his way on the field, if healthy.)
- What does DeAndre Hopkins have for an encore from last week? He has made it known to opposing teams in the NFL that he can take over games. The Ravens will have to pick their battles and how they are going to defend Hopkins. With a cleared Andre Johnson, the passing game could be fun to watch. The Texans wide receivers are only getting better and Hopkins is what this franchise needed for sometime.
- How will the Texans handle the emotional part of the game with Ray Lewis being inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor? There will be plenty of distractions on game day and emotions will be high, but the Texans will have to remember that this is nothing more than another football game. Keeping focused and getting another AFC victory is key, along with being able to deal with the show that comes when arriving in Baltimore.
- The Texans have squeaked out two late second wins to start the season but they need to find a way to keep the gas on the pedal in all three phases of the game. The team has shown struggles on offense with not being able to move the ball and on defense with giving up long drives that resulted in touchdowns. They have to find a way to give themselves breathing room and play with a lead instead of coming from behind. The room for error is less when playing from behind and the Texans need to prevent those situations as much as possible.
- If there is one thing Joe Flacco does not like, it is pressure and being hit. The Texans have had a knack for making Flacco look like he has very little clue with what to do with the football so putting a pass rush together is once again key for the Texans defense. The entire defense feeds off of the likes of J.J. Watt, Antonio Smith and Brian Cushing. If Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus can also get something going, they could even be a more dangerous defense in the NFL.
- We would talk more about Ed Reed but waiting for game time will be all we are waiting for.