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Scouting report for Ravens-Texans matchup on 'Monday Night Football'

RAVENS PASSING GAME: A “Monday Night Football” audience will get a glimpse at the NFL’s worst passing offense statistically. The Ravens are averaging just 165.2 passing yards per game. Joe Flacco has been held to one touchdown pass or none in eight of 10 games. He has two more interceptions than touchdown passes. Flacco is trying to get the ball more to top targets Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin on quick, intermediate routes. The Ravens’ patchwork offensive line is showing signs of strain.

TEXANS PASSING GAME: Texans coach Bill O’Brien said de-facto starter Tom Savage played his best game last week in a victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Savage, who took over when rookie phenom Deshaun Watson had a season-ending knee injury, is making his seventh career start. His inexperience shows at times when he locks onto receivers. With nine touchdown catches, receiver DeAndre Hopkins is proving again that he’s one of the league’s best. The Texans have had problems protecting the quarterback.

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(EDGE: TEXANS)

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RAVENS RUNNING GAME: It’s suddenly become a struggle in recent weeks for the Ravens to get their run game going. After rushing for 125 or more yards in five of their first six games, the Ravens haven’t hit the 80-yard plateau in three of their past four. The team’s lead back, Alex Collins, is coming off a career-high 20-carry game. He’s gotten into some trouble in recent weeks when trying to bounce outside rather than just going forward for a minimal gain. Veteran Danny Woodhead will be more involved each week.

TEXANS RUNNING GAME: Houston had a nice one-two punch going on the ground with Lamar Miller and rookie D’Onta Foreman. However, Foreman ruptured his Achilles tendon Sunday after scoring two touchdowns against the Cardinals. Miller, an all-purpose threat, will likely shoulder even more of the load. Miller ranks 10th in the league in rushing yards and has three receiving scores. The Texans are averaging 128.5 rushing yards per game, the sixth most in the league.

(EDGE: TEXANS)

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RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: The Ravens still rank 26th in the NFL against the run, but that standing looks more and more deceiving these days. While they’re allowing an average of 120.8 rushing yards per game, they’ve held their past three opponents to 75 or fewer yards on the ground. With Brandon Williams clogging the middle, teams are challenging the Ravens’ young linebackers on the outside and having sporadic success. C.J. Mosley, the team’s top tackler, is dealing with a sprained ankle.

TEXANS RUSH DEFENSE: This is a really good group. The Texans are giving up the fifth-fewest yards per carry in the NFL (3.7), and their three rushing touchdowns allowed are a league low. They’re also surrendering just 92 rushing yards per game, seventh in the league. Inside linebacker and tackles leader Benardrick McKinney is a physical player and is very fast to the ball. For all the talk about Jadeveon Clowney’s pass-rush ability, he also can be dominant against the run with 15 tackles for loss.

(EDGE: TEXANS)

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RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has made a conscious effort to get more speed onto the field. That’s meant more of Marlon Humphrey at outside corner, Maurice Canady in the slot and Tim Williams at outside linebacker. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars are allowing fewer passing yards per game than the Ravens’ 185.2. The Ravens lead the league with 16 interceptions. It will be interesting to see whether the Ravens have their top corner, Jimmy Smith, shadow DeAndre Hopkins all game.

TEXANS PASS DEFENSE: The losses of pass rushers J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus and inside linebacker Brian Cushing have taken a toll on the Texans, who are giving up 26.2 points per game. That’s the third most in the NFL. Clowney is a game-wrecker and can beat double teams. Houston has struggled to generate a steady pass rush beyond him. The Texans have a hard-hitting secondary, but longtime Flacco nemesis Johnathan Joseph has been vulnerable against speedy receivers. Houston is tough on third down.

(EDGE: RAVENS)

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RAVENS SPECIAL TEAMS: The young coverage teams continue to show improvement, and they’re mostly avoiding crippling penalties. Justin Tucker is 20-for-23 on field-goal attempts, and his variety of kickoffs have allowed the Ravens to give up the fourth-lowest kickoff-return average in the league. Sam Koch has done his part, putting a league-high 24 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Michael Campanaro is second in the league with an average of 14.7 yards per punt return.

TEXANS SPECIAL TEAMS: The Texans haven’t gotten a lot from either their punt- or kickoff-return game, and a series of injuries has forced them to try a bunch of options. Shane Lechler, who has the top career gross punting average in NFL history, remains a weapon with his ability to switch the field. Ka’imi Fairbairn is 12-for-14 on field-goal attempts since taking over for Nick Novak. Safety Kurtis Drummond is Houston’s top coverage guy and leads the team with 10 special teams tackles.

(EDGE: RAVENS)

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RAVENS INTANGIBLES: Frustration still abounds with how the offense is playing, but the Ravens are seemingly gaining confidence that a dominant defense and reliable special teams units will give them chances to win every game. They are among the least penalized teams in the NFL and they have one of the best turnover ratios, characteristics of a playoff team. The Ravens have won nine consecutive prime-time home games, and their 11-1 record in such games in the John Harbaugh era is tops in the league.

TEXANS INTANGIBLES: Despite all their injuries, the Texans are still hanging around the AFC playoff picture. Savage seemed to gain some confidence with his two-touchdown performance against the Cardinals. The Texans have lost three of their past four games overall and three straight games on the road. They’ve been mistake-prone for much of the season as they have a minus-five turnover ratio and they rank 24th in the league in penalties.

(EDGE: RAVENS)

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PREDICTION: The Ravens need to do much more than dominate a Green Bay Packers team without a healthy NFL-caliber quarterback to prove they are playoff worthy. I’m not sure defeating the banged-up Texans who have a backup quarterback at the helm will provide all that much proof either. However, the Ravens aren’t looking for style points. They just need to start banking wins. There figure to be a few anxious moments Monday because the Texans have top-end talent at certain positions. Hopkins and Clowney are of particular concern. Overall though, the Ravens are the better team and they’re at home.

Ravens, 20-17

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