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With running backs Darren McFadden (455 yards) and Mike Goodson out with high-ankle sprains, it's unlikely that third-string back Taiwan Jones will have a hefty workload. He's a speed merchant, but is unproven after excelling at the small-school level.
So, it's the Ravens' defense against an old nemesis: former Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer.
Palmer is coming off a 414-yard game against the Buccaneers where he threw four touchdowns and three interceptions.
Palmer lacks the zip he used to have on his spirals, but can still get distance on the deep ball and is accurate and smart. He's got two burners outside in former Maryland standout Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore. And he's got no running game to lean on Sunday. So expect Palmer to try to air it out and watch for Heyward-Bey and Moore on fly patterns against cornerbacks Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith.
The enigma that is the 2012 Chicago Bears was broken down by SI.com’s Kerry J. Byrne this week, with the finger pointing mostly at how far the defense has carried this team. Chicago’s stop unit causes chaos all over the field, averaging an insane 3.5 takeaways per game. The Bears are nearly averaging a defensive TD per game and came away with scores from Corey Wootton on a blocked punt and Brian Urlacher off an INT versus Tennessee last week.
However, if you don’t give away the ball, how is Chicago supposed to make those big plays? Houston may have this already figured out. The Texans protect the football like a teenage daughter and rank tops in the league in giveaways per game (0.8). They’ve only fumbled the ball twice and QB Matt Schaub has been picked off only four times, including clean sheets in the past two outings.