Week 3: Texans-Ravens matchup analysis
Houston Texans (2-0) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, at M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md. - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
*Keys to the game: The Ravens fared better with rookie S Matt Elam at the back end of their defense last week. Baltimore's coverage downfield is only as good as the Ravens' pass rush, which has six sacks of QB Matt Schaub in the past three meetings. CB Lardarius Webb will track WR Andre Johnson (concussion) if he's cleared to play, or slide to rookie DeAndre Hopkins in the event Johnson sits. Without Johnson, the Ravens are more apt to stack their safeties near the line to stop RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Ravens QB Joe Flacco is averaging 47.5 pass attempts (Schaub is at 46.5) per game with a sputtering running game. Ray Rice (hip) could be limited, pushing Bernard Pierce into the starting spot. Both are under 3.0 yards per carry this season, and Houston's 3-4 defense strives to take away the run, which leaves WRs Torrey Smith and surprising rookie Marlon Brown in man coverage.
*Matchup to watch - Texans LT Duane Brown/Ryan Harris vs. Elvis Dumervil: Brown described his turf toe injury as "nasty" and he wasn't mobile early in the week. Harris, a journeyman who practiced daily against Dumervil in Denver from 2007-2010, isn't a premier pass blocker.
*Player spotlight - Texans FS Ed Reed: He missed a second consecutive game last week because he's still recovering from arthroscopic hip surgery. He's expected to make his debut with the Texans at Baltimore, where the 35-year-old spent the first 11 seasons of his career. Reed is the NFL's active leader in interceptions with 61.
*Fast facts: The Texans are tied for first in the NFL in red-zone offense with seven touchdowns in seven possessions inside the opponents' 20-yard line. They're last in the NFL in red-zone defense (six possessions, six touchdowns). ... Baltimore is 5-1 against the Texans, including 3-0 at home, and has a 13-game September winning streak at home.
WHO WILL WIN AND WHYO
Houston was won seven consecutive one-score games, and gets its first win at Baltimore behind a stellar defense.
*Our pick: Texans 23-15