1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Texans

1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Texans
September 20, 2013, 5:00 pm
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What can the Ravens expect from the Texans?

Emotion will be thick at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday as Ray Lewis returns to be inducted in the Ravens Ring of Honor, but on the field, the game features two of the AFC's best teams. Here's what we think will -- or will not -- happen:

 1. Ray Rice will not play ...

Rice has not practiced all week and is officially listed as doubtful with a left hip flexor strain. Rice has not missed a game since his rookie season -- a streak of 66 straight regular-season games -- but that will end. There's no sense risking a long-term injury in Week 3.

2. ... but Ed Reed will.

Reed insists this is just another game, that he has no added motivation to return to the field this week. Do you believe him? Reed was reportedly very close to playing last week, and Texans coach Gary Kubiak said Reed came out of practice on Thursday "really good." Look for No. 20 to be patrolling the secondary in the red, white and blue uniform.

3. Neither team will average more than 4 yards a carry.

The Ravens run game has struggled, averaging 2.8 yards a carry. Missing Ray Rice isn't going to help. The Texans running back duo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate has averaged 5.2 yards a carry, but they will find tough sledding against a Ravens front that has allowed 3.0 yards a rush.

4. A Texas tight end will catch a touchdown.

Texans tight ends Owen Daniels (3) and Garrett Graham (2) already have five touchdowns this season. The Ravens have had trouble covering the tight ends. The Texans have plenty of red zone weapons, but the tight ends are definitely two of them.

5. Torrey Smith will have at least 6 catches.

Yes, everyone knows Torrey Smith is the Ravens' top receiving threat. But no, that hasn't stopped him. In two games, Smith has caught 11 passes for 177 yards. The bottom line is the Ravens passing game starts with Smith, and whether deep or in the flat, he will be a frequent target once again.

6. J.J. Watt will get his hands on at least two passes.

The reigning Defensive Player of the Year hit 16 passes last season. Some were batted down. One, against the Ravens, was tipped by Watt and then intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Johnathan Joseph. Watt's athleticism and wingspan and knack for getting a big paw in the air at the right time will once again disrupt the Ravens passing game.

7. Joe Flacco will be intercepted ...

Will Ed Reed pull a patented Reed by baiting Flacco and then pouncing? Will Flacco nemesis Johnathan Joseph intercept him yet again? The bottom line is the Texans pressure generates mistakes, and with the Ravens passing game still not in synch, mistakes will happen.

8. ... and so will Matt Schaub.

The Ravens are one of just five teams without an interception through the first two games. Schaub has thrown only two interceptions in four career games against the Ravens, but the Ravens are overdue for a pick.

9. Justin Tucker will not miss a field-goal attempt.

Seeing Tucker miss twice last week sent minor shock waves through Raven Nation. He was 30-for-33 last season, and both he and special teams coach Jerry Rosburg said this week that there is nothing wrong physically. Expect Tucker to bounce back well.

10. Texans 20, Ravens 16

The defense will do enough to keep the Ravens in the game. But the offense, minus one of its top weapons, won't do enough to win it. Ed Reed leaves M&T Bank Stadium with another win.