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On September 22, the Ravens will welcome J.J. Watt and the Texans to Baltimore.
Prediction: Texans 28, Baltimore 20 (1-2)
Last season, the Houston Texans put a beatdown on the Baltimore Ravens in Houston. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub threw for 256 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, while Arian Foster ran for 98 yards and added two scores of his own.
On offense, Joe Flacco and the Ravens had no luck, totaling 176 yards in the game. Flacco completed 21 of 43 passes for 147 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Ray Rice was also limited for Baltimore, carrying just nine times for 47 yards without posting a touchdown.
With a defense that no longer features Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, the Ravens will have big shoes to fill against a physical Houston offense. Foster has not been kind to opposing defenses since being named Houston's starter in 2010. Since then, he has rushed for 4,264 yards on 956 carries and posted 41 touchdowns on the ground.
Recently signed linebackers Rolando McClain and Elvis Dumervil, along with the rest of the front seven will have a tall task in stopping Foster. Should the Ravens be able to limit Foster and force Houston to go to the air, they might have a chance. As it currently stands, the only real threat Houston has in the receiving game is veteran Andre Johnson.
While the Texans will likely acquire another receiver in the draft, Houston could cause problems for Baltimore's secondary as well. With Lardarius Webb coming back from a torn ACL, hopefully, Baltimore can find a way to limit Jonhson's production. In last year's contest, Johnson hauled in nine passes for 86 yards, leading both teams in those categories.
While I would like to be more optimistic about this matchup, the Texans are a great football team. After last season's slaughter, predicting an eight-point differential seems reasonable at this point.