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Photo by: MSA/Icon SMI

Houston is one of the more balanced teams in all of the NFL.  That is why it is not surprising in the least to see them tied with the best record in the AFC.  The other team is of course the Ravens, who also sit at 5-1 heading into week 7.  As I mentioned before, these two are the only teams in the whole AFC with a winning record.  There are plenty of teams at .500, including the entire AFC East, but only Houston and Baltimore have managed winning records.  Whoever wins this one will be at the top of the AFC.

The Texans lost their first game of the season last week on Sunday Night against the Packers.  In that game they were absolutely shredded by Aaron Rodgers who threw for an incredible 6 TD passes.  Green Bay does have a great team though, so I wouldn’t exactly write off Houston just yet.  Arian Foster has established himself as probably the best back in all the NFL.  He has nearly 600 yards on the ground already with 7 touchdowns.  He has done so at just 3.8 yards a carry, but that is because they given him the ball nearly 150 times already.  Given his injury history it is no wonder he isn’t breaking off big runs every time.  Eventually they figure to scale down his carries, but not likely for this contest. Baltimore has been historically bad stopping the run the last two games.  Jamaal Charles, Demarco Murray, and even Felix Jones had their ways with the Ravens rush D, so Foster and Ben Tate figure to be a huge part of their offensive strategy.  With Ray Lewis out as well, we could see a lot of ground action..

The passing game for Houston is also solid.  Matt Schaub has played a secondary role, but has done so pretty well.  He has stayed for the most part mistake free, only throwing 4 interceptions.  He has over 1300 yards and 8 TDs, which aren’t earth shattering numbers, but solid.  With top WR Andre Johnson playing healthier than he has in recent years, he brings a huge matchup problem for whoever is covering him.  With no Lardarius Webb, it will be either Cary Williams or Jimmy Smith’s responsibility to stop the All Pro WR.  That of course is only if Smith is even healthy enough to play.  Owen Daniels is playing well as well, which will stretch the Ravens secondary and even more thin.

Leading the defense is the incredible JJ Watt.  He is having a monster season thus far, already tallying 9.5 sacks on the year.  With Mario Williams shipped off to Buffalo, Watt has taken a starting role and run away with it.  The Ravens sometimes porous line will have to try all their tricks to slow down the edge rusher.  Where the Ravens can try to take advantage of Houston though is in the passing game.  They have done well to stop the pass most of the year, but Jonathan Joseph has been hampered by a groin injury the last couple of weeks that has severely affected his play.  Just ask Aaron Rodgers who picked on him all day.  If Joseph goes in this one, he won’t be 100%, so Flacco should target him early and often.  The former pro bowler is talented and you won’t have too many games to take advantage of him like this.

This game should be a close one, but depends a lot on how the Ravens react to injuries. With no Webb or Lewis, the morale could have taken a hit, but I doubt that to be the case.  This team should fight this one out no matter what.  There is still an outside chance Terrell Suggs suits up for this one, which would be a huge boost of confidence to the defensive side of the ball.

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