Upset Watch appears every Thursday this season for ESPN Insider, as Football Outsiders uses a proprietary formula to forecast the expected point spread of each game based on current DVOA ratings (explained here) and, early in the season, our DVOA projections. Each week we highlight the most likely upset on a game with a line over three points, plus an additional game in which a significant underdog has a strong chance to cover.
Upset Watch: Baltimore (+6.5) at Houston
Only two teams in the AFC have winning records right now, and they play each other on Sunday. Normally, this line would look a bit absurd. Both teams have a 5-1 record, and they rank right next to each other in the Football Outsiders DVOA ratings (Houston is ninth, Baltimore is 10th). So the line should only be three points, the usual home-field advantage when two teams are roughly equal.
But of course, these teams aren't really equal, because the Ravens won't be putting their whole team on the field Sunday. Two of their most important players, cornerback Lardarius Webb and linebacker Ray Lewis, are done for the season. And while Terrell Suggs says he'll suit up, there's no telling what impact he'll have coming back from an Achilles injury. We've already explained to you how the loss of Webb will hurt the Baltimore secondary. The loss of Lewis isn't quite as important, but it's still not good to lose a starting inside linebacker, even one who is 37 years old. It's fair to assume the Ravens won't be able to shut down the Texans offense on Sunday.
But that doesn't mean that the Ravens can't win the game.