NFL Week 7 Picks: 4 Reasons the Ravens Can Still Pull off the Win
Times are tough right now in Baltimore.
Ray Lewis is out for at least the remainder of the regular season, Lardarius Webb is gone for the season, and both Haloti Ngata and Ed Reed are banged up and have missed practice.
All this is hitting the Ravens defense after they allowed over 200 yards on the ground in back-to-back contests.
Now they head into Houston to play possibly the best running back in all of football, and certainly one of the top backups in the league.
Despite all of this, there are still a few reasons for Ravens fans to believe they can pull off a big win.
While it's far from a guarantee, here are four reasons the Ravens can still pull off a win in Houston.
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Whether or not you feel Terrell Suggs should return to action this week isn't really important.
The fact is, it appears as though the reigning defensive player of the year will play in Houston and that should comfort some of the skeptical Ravens fans out there.
Although this may just be a posturing move from the Ravens coaching staff, it will help Baltimore one way or the other.
If he doesn't play, this report should still have Houston's offensive coaches using a good chunk of their time preparing for his return.
If he does play, but is limited in terms of snaps, he should still be effective when it comes to the pass rush (or run stopping should they decide to use him in that capacity since it's been a sore spot lately).
If he plays the entire game, then Baltimore will have received a much needed boost to their defense, which has been uncharacteristically bad so far this year.
No matter what you make of the linked report above, Terrell Suggs will have an impact on this game in some form.
Depth at Linebacker
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Let's suppose that Terrell Suggs is, indeed, limited to just a few series on defense.
With Ray Lewis also sidelined for the rest of the regular season, the linebacker corps may not look all that promising to most.
With players like Jameel McClain, Paul Kruger (who can still hold his own), Dannell Ellerbe (who just needs to start finishing more of his tackles) and the athletic rookie Courtney Upshaw, who's had a fine season for a rookie, the Ravens still have a decent group of linebackers to throw at Houston come Sunday afternoon.
Throw Terrell Suggs into the mix and there really isn't all that much to worry about.
Sure, none of them are Ray Lewis, but all of them are capable and can help the Ravens win football games.
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Let me preface this by saying that getting into a good old shootout against the Houston Texans may not be the best idea for Baltimore if they want to come out of Houston with a win on Sunday.
The Ravens offense, however, is still capable of putting up points, even against a fairly tough Texans defense.
With Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith all healthy, a standout week from the offensive line and full back Vonta Leach could help alleviate some pressure from the defense.
If the Ravens can keep the offense on the field for extended periods of time, it would help not only put up points, but give their banged up defensive squad some rest.
If Baltimore is to win this game, Joe Flacco is going to have to be aware of his team's situation and win accordingly.
Haloti Ngata and Ed Reed
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Yes, I know earlier that I mentioned that both of these guys are slightly banged up.
Luckily for Baltimore, however, it's likely that both will play on Sunday against the Texans.
While the thought of a slightly injured Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata may not be ideal for Ravens fans, especially after having lost both Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis for extended periods, it's better than having them both not play at all.
Even with a torn labrum, Ed Reed is a valuable asset to this team's secondary, and is now, most likely, going to be the leader of a worn down defense.
As for Ngata, he's one of the top defensive linemen in all of football, so trying to replace him would be a nightmare for Baltimore, especially against the top running back tandem in the NFL.
Again, having both of these guys miss a few days of practice this week is not necessarily the end of the world.
So long as they're able to suit up on Sunday, Ravens fans shouldn't worry too much.