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Matt Schaub needs to be able to rely on his tight ends without Andre Johnson
If the Texans are successful in these areas, this is a very winnable game for Houston.
However, if they are not, this game will be a very tough win on the road against a top team in the conference.
The Ravens are well rested from a bye week, and have already beaten the two AFC finalists of last year, the Jets and Steelers.
If the Texans had a healthy Johnson and Williams, this would be viewed as a very winnable game, but Houston’s chances have diminished drastically due to the injuries of their offensive and defensive leaders.
The Ravens also have a top-flight running game headlined by the dynamic Ray Rice and a defense that is strong in all areas, featuring Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs, all top players in their positions.
In order to win, Houston must control the tempo on offense while relying on Arian Foster, who will surely get many carries. Foster also needs to continue being a weapon out of the backfield.
The contribution from tight ends will be crucial for Matt Schaub, especially on third down.
Two rookies will play big roles on defense and must be able to apply pressure on Flacco.
The Baltimore Ravens have never lost to Houston, and that will not change Sunday unless the Texans are able to fully take advantage of their recent strengths and depend on new leaders.
Prediction: Ravens 24, Texans 17