Originally written on Ravens Football Machine  |  Last updated 10/18/12
Rumors of OLB Terrell Suggs coming back from his Achilles rehab to bolster the Ravens' run defense against the Houston Texans are circulating around Baltimore and the NFL as of the Friday before game time. Personally I would not count on Suggs being even close to ready to be activated. But he did have a limited practice on Wednesday and another on Thursday. I guess we won't know for certain until around noon on game Sunday in Houston.But the Suggs rumor does give the Texans at least something extra they'll have to gameplan for...and it does impress me that Suggs may actually be far enough in his physical rehab to at least consider the possibility of playing. That's one bear of a surgical repair he's been rehabbing--- usually taking a full year to regain full mobility and overcome muscular atrophy.The Ravens have been getting gashed in the running game so far in 2012. Now with Ray Lewis (triceps) and Lardarius Webb (ACL) gone for the season, the Ravens defense will need help from its own offensive unit to generate more points and longer time-of-possession. That means the Ravens may have to rely more on guys like Ray Rice getting a running game going than to worry about the Texans' ground yardage.The Accuscore.com computer simulations for this matchup definitely stress the importance of the Ravens establishing a big ground game against the Texans. Both teams are 5-1, yet neither team is playing at full strength.AccuScore is forecasting a close game, with the Baltimore Ravens winning 41% of simulations, and the Houston Texans 59% of simulations. In close games, turnover margin is especially important. The Baltimore Ravens commit fewer turnovers in 26% of simulations, and they go on to win 75% when they take care of the ball. The Houston Texans win 72% of the simulations in which they commit fewer turnovers. Ray Rice is averaging 69 rushing yards per sim. If he can have a great game with better than average rushing yards and at least a 1 rushing TD (26% chance) then he helps his team win 67%. Arian Foster is averaging 103 rushing yards per sim. If he can have a great game with better than average rushing yards and at least a 1 rushing TD (42% chance), then he helps his team win 79%.With key defenders missing, the Ravens' task of slowing down Arian Foster may have become more difficult. Baltimore gave up 481 total yards and a franchise-record 227 on the ground versus the Cowboys the previous Sunday.Foster, who ran for 132 yards and a touchdown versus the Ravens in the playoffs, will be looking to bounce back after rushing for a season-low 29 yards on 17 carries Monday night as Houston (5-1) fell 42-24 to Green Bay. He scored on a pair of one-yard runs, but the Texans managed only 90 yards on the ground, marking the third time they've been held to 95 or fewer. "The end result is we're not running the ball very well at all,'' coach Gary Kubiak said. "It's not going to change how we believe and what we think we have to do to win, we've just got to look really hard at it and hopefully change it this week.''While the offense may have its issues, the defense will be out to prove last week's dismal performance was a fluke. Houston's defense, which entered the week ranked third in total yards (275.6 per game) and fourth in scoring (14.6), allowed 427 total yards as Aaron Rodgers picked apart the secondary for six touchdowns. "It's a humbling game,'' said Kubiak, whose team is tied with Baltimore for the conference's best record. "You play a lot of football and you're going to have some highs and lows. That's the first big low of the year. We've got other challenges coming our way, so how we handle those type of things will have a lot to do with what we are when it's all said and done. It's a big disappointment, but we've got to move on.'' The Texans have lost all six meetings with the Ravens, and that streak may continue if the defense can't rebound to slow down Baltimore's offense, led by Joe Flacco and Ray Rice. Flacco finished 17 for 26 for 234 yards and a touchdown, and Rice added two scores rushing Sunday versus Dallas for an offense that ranks second in the AFC averaging 385.0 yards per game. "There have been many, many times where we've won because our defense has carried a heavy, heavy burden over the years,'' Harbaugh said. "For our offense to carry some of that burden ... is a great thing." Baltimore's defense didn't have to face Matt Schaub in January after he suffered a Lisfranc injury in his right foot earlier last season, but he'll be under center Sunday. Schaub, though, struggled against the Packers, tossing two interceptions while failing to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in four games. He's completed 52.5 percent of his passes in two career starts versus the Ravens.Of course the Texans' defense has been hurt, too, by the loss of LB Brian Cushing due to a torn ACL. So there may be even more of an edge to the Ravens running game than usual in this one.
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