With their best players on each side of the ball -- Andre Johnson and Mario Williams -- out, public confidence in the Houston Texans is weakening. Houston opened the week against Baltimore as touchdown underdogs, but the line has now moved to +9.
Part of that pessimism stems from playing in Baltimore against a 3-1 Ravens team coming off a bye week. They lead the AFC North and have a +64 point differential this season, third best in the NFL.
Without Johnson, Houston will need to win in the trenches against Baltimore. Arian Foster is finally healthy and the Texans average 132 yards a game on the ground, fifth in the NFL, but the Ravens run defense is annually near the top of the league. With Haloti Ngata commanding double teams on the line of scrimmage and Ray Lewis running free behind him, Baltimore gives up only 72.5 rushing yards a game, second in the NFL.
The over/under for the game is currently set at 45 points, perhaps reflecting the strength of a Texans defense that held Oakland's premier rushing attack to only 94 yards last week. Baltimore depends heavily on its ground combination of Ray Rice and Ricky Williams, as Joe Flacco is only completing 49.3% of his passes this season.