HOUSTON - The Baltimore Ravens are standing in Houston's way again, only this time without Ray Lewis and their best cornerback.
The Ravens (5-1) lost Lewis and Lardarius Webb to season-ending injuries this week, crippling blows to a defense that was already not quite what it used to be. Tackle Haloti Ngata (knee) and safety Ed Reed (shoulder) also are hurting, but linebacker Terrell Suggs may play after practicing for the first time since tearing an Achilles tendon in April.
"You can complain all you want, but nobody cares," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. "Nobody is going to feel sorry for you. It's an opportunity. You know the old saying: 'When one door closes, another door opens,' right? We've all heard that since we were kids, and that's true. There are going to be opportunities for guys."
No matter who plays for Baltimore, the Texans (5-1) still see the same hard-hitting Ravens who shut them down twice last season, the second time in the playoffs.
"They've still got talent. They always have," Houston quarterback Matt Schaub said.
"You've got to play smart, fundamentally sound football to beat them and you've got to keep your situations manageable, and you've got to take advantage of opportunities when you have them because you might not get any others."
Baltimore has never lost to the Texans in six meetings, and this matchup comes with potentially far-reaching implications.
The Ravens and Texans share the best record in the AFC, and both already have the inside track to their division titles.
They're the only teams above .500 in the AFC and they're both unbeaten against AFC opponents, so today's winner will have a leg up in possible tiebreaking scenarios.
"I know it's early in the season," Houston coach Gary Kubiak said, "but this game carries a lot of weight down the road."
• What: Ravens at Texans, 10 a.m., Ch 13
• The line: Texans by 7
• Record vs. spread: Baltimore 2-4; Houston 4-2
• Series: Ravens lead 6-0
• Notable: QB Joe Flacco leads league with 18 pass plays covering at least 25 yards. Flacco ranks third in yards per pass attempt (8.09) and seventh in yards passing (1,690). ... Texans' defense has not allowed rushing TD this season and has held opponents to NFL-best 20 three-and-outs. ... Houston ranks second in passes defensed (41) and third-down defensive efficiency (27.6 percent).