Game preview: Texans at Ravens

Game preview: Texans at Ravens
September 20, 2013, 8:30 am
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Flacco, Suggs, Smith reflect on Ed Reed

Ravens

What: Texans (2-0) at Ravens (1-1)

Where: M & T Bank Stadium, Baltimore

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: CBS

Ravens Postgame Live on CSN: 4 p.m.

Five questions that need answers.

1. Will Ed Reed play?

Reed has always liked drama. In recent years, there was often something going on with Reed. Would he report to training camp on time? Would he retire soon, or play another five years? Would he re-sign with the Ravens, or leave? This week’s soap opera centers on Reed’s health, and whether he has recovered from hip surgery well enough to play against his former mates. The Texans have been patient with Reed, knowing they want him for the stretch run and the playoffs. Reed is unpredictable, so he might sit out. But he’s also a competitor. The guess here is that he plays Sunday, especially with Ray Lewis in the house to be inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor. And if Reed does play, it will be fascinating to watch him compete against the Ravens, the team where he built an 11-year Hall of Fame worthy career. “I think it’s strange because everybody views him as a Raven,” said quarterback Joe Flacco. “I think it’s probably more strange for me too, just because it’s the same as playing against an old teammate. I knew Ed Reed as a Baltimore Raven before I started playing on the Baltimore Ravens. That’s what makes it different for everybody around Baltimore, and everybody around the country is that they know him as (a) Baltimore Raven.”

2. Will running back Ray Rice (hip flexor) play?

Rice has not practiced this week. That does not mean he won’t play Sunday. But the guess here is that he sits out. It’s only Week 3. And Bernard Pierce is more than capable of having a big game in Rice’s absence.

3. Can the Ravens beat a quality team?

The Broncos blew out the Ravens. The Ravens’ defense was impressive against the Browns, but those were the Browns. This is a bigger game for the Ravens (1-1) than for the Texans (2-0). If the Ravens lose at home and fall to 1-2, concern will return that they are more pretenders than contenders.

4. Can the Ravens’ offensive line keep the Texans away from Flacco?

J. J. Watt is one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers. However, when the Texans crushed the Ravens, 43-13, last season in Houston, they sacked Flacco four times without Watt getting a sack. The Ravens can’t pay so much attention to Watt that other pass rushers run free.

5. Is the Ravens’ run defense legit? The Ravens did a solid job containing Trent Richardson last week. But the Texans’ running back duo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate might be the best in the NFL. The Texans believe they can run against anybody. The Ravens will have to prove otherwise, or it could be a long day for them.