The media can be a fickle beast. Just seven days after the storyline around Gary Kubiak's team was "These aren't the same old Texans" following a gritty win over the Steelers, the storyline this week seems to be "Umm, so these appear to be the same old Texans" after a horrendous loss at home to the Raiders. Mario Williams is out for the year, Andre Johnson's on the mend, James Casey won't be suiting up, and Ravens are going to be fresh coming off a bye week. This has a Baltimore win written all over it. The Pick: Ravens 31, Texans 26
I don't think the loss of Mario Williams is a death knell for the Texans, but no Williams and no Andre Johnson make the Texans a .500 team, not an 11-win one. Ravens 23, Texans 13.
• In the "Bet On It" feature, SI.com doesn't think Derrick Mason will have much success in his second game against the Ravens this season.
Derrick Mason finishes with less than 20 yards receiving: Mason rapidly fell out of favor in New York, with the Jets dealing him to Houston, just in time for Mason to take on his former Baltimore teammates again (the Jets played the Ravens in Week 4).
That's not a great matchup, though, for a guy trying to learn a new offense. It's also not a great matchup for a receiver whose skills are declining by the day, which appears to be the case with Mason (he had 2 catches for 37 yards in the Jets-Ravens game). While his off-field comments probably expedited his relocation out of New York, the fact that Mason couldn't get on the field in Week 5 had just as much to do with it.
• All of ESPN's NFL "experts" expect the Ravens to win.
• ESPN's Madden 12 simulation thinks the Ravens will need extra time to beat the Texans.
Ravens 19, Texans 16, OT: Ray Rice ran for 102 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown, as Baltimore controlled the clock and the game for the majority of their showdown against the Texans. But when Houston kicked a field goal to force overtime, the Ravens needed Rice more than ever to carry them to victory. And the superstar back accomplished just that, rushing the rock past defenders in order to set up the game-winning 37-yard field goal.
• Mike Florio and Gregg Rosenthal of NBC Sports' ProFootballTalk both expect the Ravens to beat the Texans.
Florio's take: The Ravens are too strong on both sides of the ball for a Houston team that has blown its shot at a 5-0 start -- and that now faces a struggle to win the division without linebacker Mario Williams for the rest of the season and receiver Andre Johnson until further notice. Florio's pick: Ravens 30, Texans 13.
Rosenthal's take: Fun game. The Ravens versus the Texans offensive line is as good as it gets. Cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Baltimore's Lardarius Webb are both playing like Pro Bowlers. Ray Rice running against a vastly improved Texans rush defense will be interesting. Give the edge to Baltimore overall, and don't be surprised if we see a rematch in the playoffs. Rosenthal's pick: Ravens 27, Texans 24.
• All five CBSSports.com analysts believe the Ravens will win, but only three of them think they'll cover the 7 1/2-point spread.
• The Los Angeles Times' Sam Farmer predicts the Ravens will win by 10 points.
Ravens 30, Texans 20: Losing Mario Williams is a painful setback for Texans, who will probably have to blitz a lot more without him. The Ravens will put clamps on Arian Foster and make Houston one-dimensional.
• NESN's Michael Hurley expects the Ravens to win in a blowout, covering the eight-point spread against the Texans.
The Ravens have the best point differential (plus-62) in the AFC by a wide margin (Patriots second at plus-46). Sure, it's a small sample size, but in the past two seasons, the Ravens are also 2-0 with an average margin of victory of 19.5 points when coming off their bye week. As much as my gut is telling me the Texans will hang tight, I can't go against that kind of history.
• The New York Post's Bart Hubbuch believes the Ravens will win by more than the 5 1/2-point spread.
No Andre Johnson, no Mario Williams no chance for Houston, particularly against a rabid Baltimore defense at home. Matt Schaub will be running for his life. RAVENS
Seeing other predictions on this week's NFL games? Leave them as a comment below.
[Compiled by Dean Jones Jr.]