The 5-1 Baltimore Ravens will take on the 5-1 Houston Texans on Sunday at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, in a rematch from last year's AFC Divisional playoff game that the Ravens won by a score of 20-13.
The Ravens are coming off a 31-29 victory over the Dallas Cowboys last week, in which quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 234 yards and one touchdown. Running back Ray Rice rushed for only 63 yards on 16 carries, and added one reception for 43 yards. Look for the Ravens to mix it up on the ground and in the air against a Texans defense that struggled in every aspect on defense last week versus the Packers.
The Texans will look to rebound after their first loss of the season by a score of 42-24 against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Running back Arian Foster easily had his worst game of the season as he rushed for a lowly 29 yards on 17 carries.
Matt Schaub also had a poor performance as he threw for only 232 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. The Ravens are allowing 136 yards a game on the ground, good for 26th in the NFL, and will need to stop the Texans potent run game if they are going to pull off the upset.
Here are three things that may surprise in this week's game...
1. Joe Flacco and Matt Schaub will both throw for over 300 yards.
It's no secret that both of these defenses are dealing with serious injury issues. The Texans recently lost linebacker Brian Cushing for the year and saw Aaron Rodgers throw for 338 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Ravens meanwhile, just lost linebacker Ray Lewis for the year, along with stud cornerback Lardarius Webb. The Ravens come into the game allowing 260 yards a game, which ranks 22nd in the NFL, and that number will only get higher as these injuries begin to take their toll. Both quarterbacks have shown that they are capable of putting up big numbers, and this week will be no different.
2. This game will come down to a last second field goal kick
The Texans are touchdown favorites in Vegas, which is actually a pretty high number. Both of these teams have only one loss in their first six games, and have played at a very high level all year. More importantly, despite playing this game in October, it could be the deciding factor over which team wins home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Both teams are a whole two games up on every other team in the AFC, and can gain more ground with a win on Sunday. Expect a tight battle all day and the game winner coming in the final seconds.
3. Ray Rice and Arian Foster will rush for a combined 300 yards.
The Ravens defense just gave up 227 yards on the ground to the Dallas Cowboys, and face a much better rushing offense in the Texans and Arian Foster. The Texans enter the game averaging 134 yards a game on the ground, and won't have any problems running the ball on Sunday against a Ravens defense that is missing several stars. The Texans also struggled at stopping the run last week against a Packer rushing attack that was missing Cedric Benson. The Packers rushed for 99 yards on a day that Aaron Rodgers spent most of the game airing it out. With Cushing out, Ray Rice will have his way on the ground and rack up the yardage.
Expect a high-scoring game with both defenses injured and struggling. The Texans will ultimately win this one at home by a score of 33-30.