NFL Wire News

Week 16 Preview: Ravens at Texans

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Baltimore Ravens (9-5) at Houston Texans (7-7)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at NRG Stadium, Houston – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker, Steve Beuerlein, Brad Johnson

*Keys to the game: The Ravens’ primary concern is making sure Texans MVP candidate J.J. Watt doesn’t single-handedly keep Houston in the game. The Texans rank 26th defending the pass, but QB Joe Flacco will likely retain the approach from last week’s victory against Jacksonville and manage an efficient offense and put the onus on a depleted opponent.

The Texans are down to their fourth-string option at quarterback, which is likely to be Case Keenum over Thaddeus Lewis. Keenum, signed off St. Louis’ practice squad Monday, went 0-8 as Houston’s starter last season and lacks the ideal arm strength to exploit Baltimore’s depleted secondary. Instead, he’ll need strong support from the ground game in order to buy time to work off play-action. If not, he’ll be at the mercy of a Ravens defense that has 14 sacks over the past two games.

With the Texans likely to struggle to move the ball, Flacco will dare the defense to commit eight defenders to the box against RB Justin Forsett and then hope his receivers show better hands than they did against the Jaguars.

*Matchup to watch – Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak vs. Texans defense: Houston’s former coach returns to NRG Stadium in his first season as Baltimore’s OC. Last year, the Ravens were 25th in points, 29th in yards and 30th in yards rushing. Under Kubiak, they are eighth in scoring (26.9 points), 10th in offense (372 yards) and fifth in rushing (132.6).

*Player spotlight – Ravens TE Owen Daniels: Like Kubiak, Daniels spent the past eight seasons with the Texans. He enters Sunday second on the Ravens with 45 receptions.

*Fast facts: Forsett rushed for 374 yards and a touchdown while with the Texans in 2012. … Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins needs 150 receiving yards to break Andre Johnson’s (2,118) franchise record for yards through a player’s first two NFL seasons.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Ravens are 30th in pass defense and placed another DB on injured reserve this week. Unfortunately, with a soft-armed QB signed off the Rams’ practice squad Monday, the Texans are ill-equipped to hit Baltimore where it is most vulnerable.

*Our pick: Ravens 26-16


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