Ravens at Texans PREVIEW

Ravens at Texans PREVIEW

Houston, TX - The emergence of rookie quarterback Joe Flacco has helped the Baltimore Ravens string together three straight victories.

The Houston Texans had their own three-game streak going before losing their starting quarterback to an injury in last week's loss.

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In the makeup of a Week 2 game that was postponed because of Hurricane Ike, Flacco looks to continue his strong play on Sunday when the Ravens visit the Texans, who will be without Matt Schaub.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made the Ravens -1 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 81% of bets for this game have been placed on the Ravens -1 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

Baltimore (5-3) lost three in a row from Sept. 29-Oct. 12 to take the shine off its 2-0 start. The Ravens, though, have rebounded by winning three straight by a combined 93-50 score.

Flacco has keyed the win streak, going 46-for-76 for 620 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions to post a 104.1 passer rating.

"Your confidence is always growing," Flacco told the Ravens' official Web site. "You get more and more experience each week. We are in the hunt, but we need to just stack up wins. That is our main focus right now."

Flacco was named the AFC's offensive player of the week after going 17-for-29 for a season-high 248 yards and two TDs as Baltimore overcame a 14-point, third-quarter deficit to beat Cleveland 37-27 last Sunday. In his third career start, fellow rookie Ray Rice ran 21 times for a season-high 154 yards.

Thrust into starting roles in their first NFL seasons, Flacco and Rice have risen to the challenge.

"When they get drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, we expect them to play like that," first-year coach John Harbaugh said. "Are we surprised? No."

While the Ravens are rolling thanks to Flacco's success, the Texans (3-5) are sweating the loss of Schaub, who left last Sunday's 28-21 defeat to Minnesota after the first half because of a knee problem.

The injury to his medial collateral ligament, which had Schaub on crutches this week, is expected to keep him sidelined for at least two weeks and possibly up to a month.

"It's very frustrating," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "I know it is for him. He's worked extremely hard to lead this football team and was playing as good as anybody I've been around in the last few weeks ... it's just sad because he was making a ton of progress."

In Schaub's absence, the Texans will turn to Sage Rosenfels, who was 4-1 as a starter last season when Schaub was out with various injuries. Things didn't go so well in his only start this season Oct. 5, when his two fumbles allowed Indianapolis to erase a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit and steal a 31-27 win.

The career backup's teammates remain confident in him despite that performance.

"We haven't lost faith at all," receiver Kevin Walter said. "He played a great game against Indy, except the last three minutes we didn't execute and we turned the ball over. He played a great game and we know he's capable of playing great games. We're going to rally around him."

Rosenfels was better after replacing Schaub last Sunday, going 21-for-29 and throwing for both of Houston's offensive scores. He still endured some struggles, though, throwing an interception in the end zone in the third quarter and taking two sacks on Houston's last drive.

He knows he'll be in for a challenge this week against Baltimore, which ranks fourth in passing defense (182.1 yards allowed per game) and second in total defense (246.4).

"This defense isn't going to give you any easy ones so I've got to go out there and play basically perfect football," Rosenfels said. "I can't turn the ball over and I've got to hit guys when they're open and when nothing's open I've got to throw it away and move on because mistakes have been killing us."

That vaunted Ravens defense gave up its second-highest point total of the season last week, but veteran linebacker Ray Lewis helped lead the Baltimore comeback.

"He told the whole team, 'We're going to win this game'," said linebacker Terrell Suggs, whose 42-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter sealed the victory. "You could see the truth in his eyes."

"Ray Lewis is the greatest general, the greatest leader - hands down - of our time."

A starting linebacker for the Texans, meanwhile, was lost for the season Wednesday when Zac Diles broke his leg in practice. Diles, who leads the team with 66 tackles, will be replaced by Kevin Bentley.

Houston has lost its previous two games against Baltimore by a combined five points. The teams last met Dec. 4, 2005, when Matt Stover made a 38-yard field goal with six seconds remaining to give the Ravens a 16-15 home victory.

Top Betting Trends
All games in this series since 1992
HOUSTON is 1-1 against the spread versus BALTIMORE since 1992
BALTIMORE is 2-0 straight up against HOUSTON since 1992
1 of 2 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.
All games played at HOUSTON since 1992
BALTIMORE is 1-0 against the spread versus HOUSTON since 1992
BALTIMORE is 1-0 straight up against HOUSTON since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Key Player Injuries
BALTIMORE
[RB] P.J. Daniels IR - Shoulder - 08/12/08
[CB] Samari Rolle is "?" - Neck - 10/29/08
[SS] Dawan Landry is out indefinitely - Neck - 09/22/08
[TE] Quinn Sypniewski IR - Knee - 07/25/08
[QB] Kyle Boller IR - Shoulder - 09/03/08
[DT] Kelly Gregg IR - Knee - 10/07/08
[CB] Chris McAlister missed last game, "?" - Knee - 10/26/08
[FS] Ed Reed missed last game, "?" - Thigh - 10/26/08
[DT] Dwan Edwards IR. - Back - 08/26/08
[LB] Brendon Ayanbadejo injured last game %27?%27 - Ankle - 10/26/08
[LB] Prescott Burgess IR - Wrist - 08/12/08
[WR] Yamon Figurs missed last game, "?" - Ankle - 10/26/08
[WR] Demetrius Williams IR - Achilles - 10/29/08
[OT] Adam Terry is downgraded to expected to miss next 2-3 weeks - Knee - 10/20/08
[OG] Marshal Yanda IR - Knee - 10/14/08
[NT] Kelly Talavou IR. - Shoulder - 08/26/08
HOUSTON
No significant injuries.

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