What the Houston Texans need to do is split their first two games to prevent things from getting out of hand a bit early in the season, but what they're about to face is a team that will make it incredibly difficult to do so. In comes the high-powered Baltimore Ravens for Week 2, hot off of a blistering 38-6 beatdown of the Cleveland Browns in Week 1. Lamar Jackson proved he's the reining NFL MVP for a reason, and furthermore that he hasn't lost a step. Mark Ingram said just ahead of the opener , and there was nothing seen against the Browns that would indicate otherwise.
He'll lead his Ravens to South Texas this week to take on a disheveled Texans club that put up little resistance to the Kansas City Chiefs last week, losing 34-20 to the defending Super Bowl champs. Deshaun Watson did all he could to carry the club -- as is usually the case -- but got little offensive help from anyone not named Will Fuller, with the receiver himself unable to find the end zone despite a strong 112-yard outing on only eight catches. All the world was curious as to what the Texans' passing attack would look like without DeAndre Hopkins, and it wasn't pretty in the first outing, although it was feverish for Hopkins in his Arizona Cardinals debut.
And with that, Watson will again ask his receiving corps to step up, particularly Randall Cobb, who landed a big money contract in free agency but had just 23 yards on two catches against the Chiefs. Of course, the Ravens have other ideas, and will try to stonewall whatever Watson throws at them.
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A healthy Fuller provides a definitive deep threat for the Texans, but nothing indicated the Chiefs were overtly concerned about the Houston passing attack in Week 1, and the Ravens probably won't be either. The expectation is they'll study for Fuller but then dare players like Cobb, Jordan Akins and Brandin Cooks -- the latter being another big-name free agency acquisition who did much of nothing in Week 1 -- to actually matter this Sunday. Cooks fared worse than Cobb's measly 23-yard spurt last week, delivering only 20 yards of his own and basically stranding Watson on an island.
Bouncing back against Baltimore will be much easier said than done, however, considering they boast one of the best defenses in the league to match one of the best offenses on the other side of their locker room. Especially with the addition of rookie linebacker Patrick Queen, who had eight combined tackles in his debut and landed his first career sack.
Contrarily, the Texans defense showed it can struggle mightily against dynamic quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, a former league MVP and current Super Bowl MVP. They'll get no reprieve this week in that regard, because Jackson is the first player in NFL history to run for more than 1,000 yards in the same season wherein he threw for more than 3,000 yards. Bill O'Brien desperately wants to prove the Texans don't need Hopkins, but it's doubtful he gets that point across against the Ravens pass rush and secondary.
It's a lot to overcome for the Texans, so give the edge to the Ravens in this one, and it probably won't be close. Be sure to check out more on this game from our experts at CBSSports.com -- including Will Brinson and Pete Prisco -- to help with your game picks for this one and every matchup on the Week 2 slate.