The Ravens face a major hurdle Sunday against the Houston Texans, and it could serve as a turning point for the 2012 season.
The Ravens are going into Houston as underdogs and missing three of their top defensive players in cornerback Lardarius Webb and linebackers Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis.
Notice I wrote Suggs because I still don't think he will play. He is expected to have a pre-game warmup that will determine his playing status for the game.
There are other factors as well that might contribute to a Ravens loss. The Texans were blown out by the Green Bay Packers last week in Houston, so the Texans will play well at home Sunday. The Texans also thought they were a better team than the Ravens last year even though the Ravens knocked them out of the playoffs. One other thing, the Ravens offense, which has carried the team this season, hasn't played well on the road.
I don't think the Ravens will win, but I think they will play well. In the past, whenever this team was challenged, they have always responded and played well.
That's extremely important at this time. The Ravens have found an identity on offense and they need to find one on defense. Going into the bye week, they have to be able to build on something and if they can slow the Texans and keep it close, then it would be a major lift for this team.
I think the Ravens will rally around the loss of key players, but that may not be enough to beat Houston.