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Game preview: Houston Texans take on Baltimore Ravens

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HOUSTON – The Houston Texans (6-3) and Baltimore Ravens (7-2) game Sunday is a great mid-season playoff preview. Both teams are leading their respective divisions and have a great chance to win them. The Ravens pulled off an impressive win against the Patriots while Houston’s road win over Kansas City stands out.

Here’s a look at a few key points in Sunday’s game.

Replacing Fuller

The Texans announced Saturday Will Fuller won’t be making the trip to Baltimore and will now miss his third consecutive game with a hamstring injury. Soft tissue injuries, especially for a player like Fuller are nothing to scoff at. Fuller likely needs another week, as he did go through some practices this week. Without him, Kenny Stills will step up into the #2 wide receiver role and Houston will have to figure out what they want to do with the slot.

Keke Coutee has been in the doghouse, playing no snaps against Oakland and Jacksonville. Deandre Carter, Coutee (if he’s out of the doghouse) and Stevie Mitchell will have to step up to fill Fuller’s role.

Hey New Guy

The other player not making the trip is slot cornerback Bradley Roby. In his place will be Vernon Hargreaves, who has been on the team for less than a week. Cut by the Buccaneers, Hargreaves will try to live up to his 2016 first round selection for a new team. Bill O’Brien’s first foray into a cornerback reclamation project with Gareon Conley worked out against Jacksonville after a rough start vs. Conley’s old team in Oakland.

Hargreaves got cut and criticized by coach Bruce Arians for not hustling, but per his PFF grades – played a pretty good overall game against the Arizona Cardinals last week. He has far more experience as an outside corner than a slot corner but has played two games at the latter position.

Deshaun vs. Lamar

It’s another battle of MVP candidates as Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson have both taken huge steps. Watson is in his third season and looks much better than he has in the first two. Jackson is in season two, and has the Ravens run-heavy offense humming. Jackson has a legitimate chance to break Michael Vick’s quarterback rushing record this season. The two ex-ACC competitors are part of a class of young, mobile quarterbacks taking over the league. They’ll both be on full display Sunday as two terrific offenses matchup against two underwhelming defenses.