When the 5-1 Houston Texans travel to face the 5-1 Baltimore Ravens it will be a clash of the only two teams in the AFC with winning records. Yet despite the success for both teams, the Ravens have reason to be concerned as a rash of injuries to the Baltimore defense will leave them looking much different than they have in years past.
Most notably, the Ravens will be without linebacker Ray Lewis after he tore his triceps during a 31-29 victory over the Cowboys. A stalwart on the Ravens' defense since being drafted by the team in the first round of the 1996 NFL Draft, Lewis has started in 226 games and earned trips to 13 Pro Bowls.
With Lewis out of the lineup, the Ravens will instead have to rely on Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain to contribute in his absence. However, Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus told Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun that the drop-off isn't as dramatic as you'd think:
"These grades are subjective, of course, but Lewis graded out as a negative-4.5 overall while McClain was a negative-3.0 and Ellerbe was a negative-6.2. Ellerbe has gotten limited opportunities against the run, but he has fared the best out of the three in that area. Still, Lewis is a sure tackler, having missed just one tackle this season."
Lewis's 2012 season ends with 57 tackles with one sack and one forced fumble.