*Here are Five Things to Watch when the Texans host the Ravens at noon CT in NRG Stadium.
1. Who's Under Center?: Who starts at quarterback is the most obvious of obvious questions. Case
Keenum or Thad Lewis will be the signal caller on Sunday, but head coach Bill O'Brien didn't reveal to the media who it would be during the week. O'Brien did, however, make it clear that one was getting the lion's share of the practice reps.
"I wouldn't say they are splitting reps," O'Brien said. "One guy is definitely getting more than the other. I think it really is virtually impossible to split reps and get somebody ready to play the Baltimore Ravens."
Keenum has more time--eight-plus months--in the offense than Lewis does. The latter joined the Texans on November 26, while the former was in Saint Louis on the practice squad during the regular season. After starting eight games in the middle of the Texans' 14-game losing streak last season, Keenum agreed with the idea that he has some unfinished business to take care of, if he starts.
"If you're breathing, there is unfinished business," Keenum said. "For me, it's an opportunity to compete and I love competing."
Lewis, meanwhile, said his knowledge of the offense has grown over the last three weeks. He also has experience with Andre Johnson.
"I've worked with Thad in the offseason before," Johnson said on Tuesday morning. "Thad is from Miami, so he's thrown to me a lot of times when we used to train back home."
2. Andre's Back: Speaking of Johnson, after missing last week's loss at Indianapolis because of a
concussion, he's practiced all week and set to go versus the Ravens.
"I'm fine now, so I'll be out there on Sunday," Johnson said.
He's caught 69 passes for 737 yards and a pair of scores. Having him back on the field is huge, according to O'Brien.
"Anytime you have a guy like that that's out there at practice with his work ethic and his knowledge of how our offense runs and his presence in the huddle, that's a good thing for our team," O'Brien said.
Johnson is just four catches shy of 1,000 for his career. With five, he'll pass Hines Ward and move into ninth place on the all-time receptions list.
3. Hammer Flacco: Since the start of 2011, the Texans and Ravens have met three times in the
regular season and once in the playoffs. In those four games, quarterback Joe Flacco's been sacked 13 times.
In the only victory over the Ravens, a Week 7 shellacking in 2012 at NRG Stadium, Flacco was dropped four times.
But now he's operating a different offense. Gary Kubiak is the coordinator and Flacco's flourished. The offense is 23 points away from setting a franchise scoring record for a season, and 516 yards shy of the team's best-ever mark. Linebacker Brian Cushing said Flacco's been impessive.
"He's done a lot of great things for them," Cushing said. "You watch Flacco, he seems very comfortable. Their offense is just clicking."
4. Familiar Faces: Kubiak, tight ends Owen Daniels and Phillip Supernaw, running back Justin
Forsett and receiver Jacoby Jones are all former Texans. Throw in quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison and tight ends coach Brian Pariani, and that's seven men with very recent ties to Houston.
Johnson is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces.
"It will be a lot of fun," Johnson said. "It will be a good chance to see a lot of those guys and catch up with them a little bit."
Forsett was a Texan in 2012, and he's erupted for a career-best 1,128 rushing yards this season. He has the utmost respect of the Texans' defense.
"My hat goes off to a guy like him," cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. "A guy that continues to work hard no matter where he is at and whatever team he is on. He has done the same thing each and every year. Obviously, he's a great guy out the backfield. He can catch the ball as well and pick up the blitz on third down. He's an overall great back."
5. Something special: The Texans could use a score on special teams this week. Their lone touchdown from that unit came in Week 1 when Alfred Blue blocked and returned a punt for six.
Meanwhile, Jones has taken a kickoff back 108 yards for a score for the Ravens. He's also returned a kickoff for 47, 58 and 72 yards as well. He's averaged 30.9 yards per kickoff return, and 8.2 yards per punt return. Including playoff games, Jones has 10 total return touchdowns in his career, so he's always a weapon to watch.
Kicker Justin Tucker's been outstanding as well. With just eight more points, he'll tie Jan Stenerud as the fastest to get 400. In November, he was the AFC Special Teams player of the month.
Meanwhile, Randy Bullock's been excellent in 2014. He's nailed 23-of-28 field goals, including three from beyond 50 yards. Also, 45.8 percent of his kickoffs have been touchbacks.