After a frankly embarrassing showing on national TV to start the year against Kansas City, it doesn’t get any easier for the Houston Texans in Week 2. The Baltimore Ravens roll into town with their bludgeoning running attack and Lamar Jackson looking to improve upon an already lethal offense with an opportunistic and well-schemed passing attack.
The Chiefs and Ravens couldn’t be any more different on offense, other than the fact they are both frighteningly great at it. Let’s all crouch behind some furniture and squint anxiously at the staff’s predictions for Sunday’s Liberty White home opener.
Tim: Ravens 30, Texans 20.
Aside from that single first quarter scoring drive, I didn’t see anything in the Texans’ performance against the Chiefs that would give me reason to feel good about them competing with the Ravens this week. While the presence of Deshaun Watson on the roster gives the Texans a chance against any opponent, it’s difficult to see the Texans winning on Sunday when examining the match-up with any semblance of objectivity. The NFL did the Texans zero favors with their early schedule, so it’s become about using the first quarter of the regular season as a glorified preseason with the hopes that the new arrivals get comfortable enough to consistently contribute as the calendar speeds toward January.
Matt Weston: Ravens 34, Texans 20.
It’s going to be 2019 all over again. The Ravens are better than they were last season. The Texans are worse, and this version of the Texans doesn’t even have the competent run defense that helped them out a little bit in their first matchup. Plus, Lamar Jackson isn’t a running quarterback. He’s a quick passing virtuoso who happens to break tackle after tackle past the line of scrimmage in Baltimore’s gap-read offense. Houston can’t cover Travis Kelce, and Mark Andrews is, like, 95% of Kelce. The Ravens also have a surprising amount of receiving options in Marquise Brown, Devin Duvernay, Miles Boykin, and Will Snead IV.
Houston’s offense struggles picking up the blitz, and they struggled last week against a Kansas City front that really didn’t do anything too exotic. Baltimore is ravenous and mysterious along the line of scrimmage. Their one weakness was their run defense, but with Brandon Williams back at nose tackle, the signings of Derek Wolfe, trading for Calais Campbell, and drafting Patrick Queen, that part of their team has improved.
Sunday is going to be miserable if the Texans winning makes you happy. Hey, at least this time Bill O’Brien won’t drown in a waterfall of boos.
bfMFd: Ravens 45, Texans 24.
The offense will once again be iced milk (because vanilla is too darn spicy), and the defense is probably worse than it was last year. There’s no reason to think anything is going to be different from the 2019 match-up.
Mike: Ravens 37, Texans 23.
Lamar Jackson and the rushing attack of the Baltimore Ravens is far more lethal than the Kansas City Chiefs’ ground assault. Houston’s defense coughed up 138 yards to a rookie in Week One. Expect to see a lot more yards given up in Week Two.
Worse still is Lamar Jackson’s ability to shred a defensive secondary. While Deshaun Watson is clearly the better quarterback, Jackson has the better supporting cast and more importantly a vastly superior head coach.
0-2, here we come.
l4blitzer: Texans 27, Ravens 23.
By all rights, this game should be another double digit loss to the co-favorite in the AFC. In Week One, the Ravens looked like they are picking up right where they left off to end the 2019 regular season, especially with a defense that is starting to give off a vibe a la their Super Bowl winning teams of the first part of this millennium. On the other hand, the Texans looked, uh, not good against Kansas City. In particular, the Texans allowed the Chiefs to ground and pound them to the tune of 166 yards rushing, and the Chiefs aren’t usually a run-first squad.
Now you have perhaps the most devastating rushing attack in the NFL coming to town, bringing a defense that has to be salivating going back up against a Texans offensive line that gave up seven sacks in Baltimore last year and didn’t look all that great against the Chiefs last week. You can barely find anyone on the national scene who has the Texans covering the spread, much less with the outright win. Thinking logically, a 2-3 score defeat, augmented by once again “winning” the fourth quarter when the game is decided, seems to be the fate of this team.
And yet...when the schedule came out, right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt that in this nightmare stretch to open the season, this is one that the Texans might just steal. They had 10 days to get the bad taste of KC out of their collective mouths, you don’t often see Deshaun Watson with back-to-back mediocre games, and while J.J. Watt is a slow starter, I can’t imagine him having another meh performance, even against a team like Baltimore. Also, while M&T Stadium is truly the Inferno on Earth for the Texans (0-6 all time), the Texans have won the past two at NRG Stadium against Baltimore. Yes, that was back in 2012 and 2014, but that’s not nothing. This is Baltimore’s first road trip of the season. Usually, the Texans play better at home, and while there will be no fans at NRG on Sunday, I just have a sense that the Texans will play better there.
This may be wishful thinking. I will go out on a limb and say that Watson and the Texans mitigate Baltimore’s pass rush just enough to allow the receivers to make plays and get the Warp Speed Passing Attack online. The defense will give up many yards on the ground, but they will do just enough to hold Baltimore to field goals over touchdowns, and the Texans actually score meaningful points in the fourth quarter to get it done.
Ravens 41, Texans 24.
As I watched the Ravens-Browns Week 1 matchup, it was hard not to realize the Ravens do everything the Texans struggle with on offense. Baltimore’s blitz packages are diverse and cunning. Their pass protection is aggressive and thorough. Their run defense is stout and deep. I’m worried Houston’s offense won’t be able to get its sea legs until the Ravens are up by three scores.
RJ: Ravens 42, Texans 14.
The Ravens are better than in 2019. The Texans are worse. The Ravens’ defense is better than the Chiefs’ and specifically are better at covering up the Texans’ passing scheme. This is going to be rough. Just hope there are no injuries. That’s really where I’m at with this matchup.
Hopefully the Texans surprise us Sunday, but that would mean they fixed a plethora of issues in a week’s time while facing arguably the best team in the NFL. Use the comment section to give us your predictions on Sunday’s game, and above all else - enjoy the game!