Scouting Report

the pick ravens 20-17

November 09, 2008|By JAMISON HENSLEY

Ravens run offense vs. Texans run defense: : The Ravens have yet to name a starting running back (Willis McGahee or Ray Rice), but both should have plenty of chances. This is the third straight game the Ravens will face a run defense ranked in the NFL's bottom 10. The Ravens have combined for 385 rushing yards against Oakland (30th in run defense) and Cleveland (28th). The Texans, ranked 23rd against the run, have allowed 12 rushing touchdowns in eight games. Their leading tackler, Zac Diles, is out after breaking his leg in practice last week. Edge: RAVENS:

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Ravens pass offense vs. Texans pass defense: : Joe Flacco's quarterback rating the past three games (104.1) ranks sixth in the NFL during that time. On the road this season, Derrick Mason has averaged 7.2 catches and 107.5 receiving yards. The key is whether Flacco and Mason have time to connect. The Texans' Mario Williams, who will alternate lining up against T Jared Gaither and T Willie Anderson, leads NFL defensive ends with eight sacks (three resulting in fumbles). Edge: RAVENS:

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Texans run offense vs. Ravens run defense: : Ranked No. 1 in run defense the past five weeks, the Ravens have yet to allow a running back to surpass 73 yards. With DT Haloti Ngata and DT Justin Bannan clogging the middle, the Ravens have allowed just one rushing touchdown (tied with Tampa Bay for best in the NFL). The last time a running back gained 100 yards on the Ravens was Dec. 10, 2006 (Kansas City's Larry Johnson). Like the Ravens, Houston uses a running back by committee with rookie Steve Slaton and Ahman Green. Slaton, a third-round pick, has gained 67.2 yards a game and has five touchdowns. Edge: RAVENS:

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Texans pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense: : Sage Rosenfels, who replaces injured starting QB Matt Schaub, has been mistake-prone this season, throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles in six quarters. Andre Johnson is one of the best receivers in the league and is even better at home. In four games at Reliant Stadium, he is averaging 10.3 catches and 148.3 yards. Owen Daniels is the only tight end to rank in the AFC's top 10 in receptions (43) and receiving yards (528). The Ravens are ranked fourth in pass defense, but they haven't played many strong passing teams. CB Samari Rolle (neck) is expected to return after missing six games. Edge: TEXANS:

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Special teams: : The Ravens' coverage teams need better tackling than last Sunday, when they gave up a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 32-yard punt return. Houston's Jacoby Jones ranks second in the NFL with two punt returns for touchdowns this season. The Texans' Andre Davis, who is averaging 22.2 yards a kick return, brought back three for touchdowns last season. Houston's Kris Brown has converted all 10 field-goal attempts, his best start since his 1999 rookie season. The Ravens' Matt Stover has connected on eight field goals in a row after a rough start. Edge: TEXANS:

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Intangibles: : The Ravens have won three straight games, including their past two on the road by double-digit margins. A victory today would boost their playoff chances, especially with tough games against the entire NFC East and Pittsburgh looming. Houston has won its past three home games, but two have been by a touchdown or less. Injuries are starting to take their toll on the Texans, who will play without their starting quarterback (Schaub) and leading tackler (Diles). Edge: RAVENS:

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Prediction: : Hurricane Ike didn't do the Texans any favors. It would have been easier to beat the Ravens in Week 2 than now. A Stover game-winner will lift the Ravens to a third straight road victory. RAVENS 20-17:

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