1/11/20 Ravens vs. Titans Playoff Game
Saturday night the Tennessee Titans will roll into Charm City to take on the number one seed – Baltimore Ravens. The Titans are coming in here with a lot of confidence and they rightly should as they earned the right to play this weekend by beating the Patriots in Foxboro – which is no easy task. Since benching Marcus Mariota in mid-October -the Titans, with Ryan Tannehill under center, have been a completely different team and have quietly gone 10 and 2 during that time. Coach Vrable has done a great job this year and his team is playing hard under his leadership. In addition to beating the Pats, the Titans can also boast to beating the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs which tells you that this team can play with best of the AFC.
The Ravens will take the field Saturday having had the benefit of extended rest which gives them a clear advantage. The Titans gave an all-out effort to win this past weekend and those games do take a toll on your body. Some pundits will say that the Ravens may have some rust from sitting for the past few weeks, but I fully expect the coaching staff to have these guys ready to play and you can be certain that their practices have been focused this week. Any time you can give your starters a break at this time of year – you do it. The Ravens are fairly healthy with the only real injury concern being Ingram who has been nursing a calf injury which he sustained against the Browns almost three weeks ago. He was limited in practice today and will likely be a game time decision on Saturday. The Ravens are better when he plays so I hope he is ready, but that said Edwards and Hill can carry the load if he is unable.
Since losing to the Chargers last year in the playoffs, Lamar Jackson’s singular focus has been to get back to the playoffs and to avenge that loss. Lamar’s athletic talent was never in question when he was drafted by the Ravens, but I don’t think anybody was keen to the fact that he was going to be such a great team leader. His focus, determination, and competitiveness has been clearly evident throughout this season and he is ready to prove himself in the post season. The Tennessee Titans are the only AFC playoff team that the Ravens have not played this year which I believe plays to their favor. Until you see Lamar’s grease lightning speed up close and personal – you cannot fully appreciate just how fast and elusive he is as a runner. I think most teams have a hard time appreciating his ability until they actually see him game conditions. Jackson will be fresh as a daisy on Saturday and I like his chances to have a big game.
Any way you look at it the Ravens are by a wide margin the better team. They have a more explosive offense and they have a much better defense. The Ravens average more points per game than any other NFL Team and they can score against anyone. Since week six, the Ravens defense has been the very best defense in the league and they are proving to be tough to score against. The Ravens have not given up more than 21 points since week 5. The Titans will bring their very best on Saturday and I expect this game to be hard fought, but if the Titans struggled to score against the Pats it is likely they will have challenges with the Ravens defense. Like I said before, the Titans spent a lot of calories last week and after an emotional win like that it is hard to come back and repeat with the same effort.
A big part of the Titans offensive success has been due to their star running back – Derrick Henry who is a 6’2” and 250 pounds and has break away speed. The man is a load to bring down and if he gets to the secondary, he presents a challenge for CBs and Safeties to get him to the ground. The Ravens will likely key on Henry and work to keep him between the tackles. The Ravens don’t want let Henry get to the edge and break off big runs. I have no doubt that Henry will get some yards, but the Ravens can’t let him take over the game. Wink will be scheming to contain Henry and if they can do that effectively it will keep the Titans offense from getting long sustained drives. It is worth noting that Henry has carried the ball 32 and 34 times over the past two games – and that kind of work load can make you a bit leg weary. Tannehill has played well this season and has one of the best completion percentages in the league, so his skill and play have to be accounted for in this game, but he didn’t play that well against the Pats and that is in part to their good secondary. The Ravens secondary is very good and it will force Tannehill to hold the ball a little longer to find an open receiver – which ultimately should end in him making some mistakes. I like Peters getting a pick in this game.
There is no mystery to what the Ravens game plan will be for this game. They will play ball control offense and use the run game to move the chains and to extend drives. Score TDs when you get to the red zone and don’t turn the ball over. It is a formula that has worked all year and they have the talent to execute it. The Ravens will want to get out of the gate fast, put points on the board and get the Titans on their heels. There are lot of advantages that the Ravens have for this game some of which include: better offense, better defense, home field, rested, healthy, MVP QB, 12 pro bowlers, world’s greatest kicker and the 12th man. I expect the Titans to pull out all the stops and play aggressive because they have nothing to lose. I expect them to take risks they might not otherwise take to overcome the obstacle of the game. Ravens will be ready for that and be up for the challenge. Ravens need to play discipline football, don’t get over amped, play clean, and don’t turn the ball over. They do those things and they win this by end of the 3rd quarter. I like the Ravens all the way here. Vegas has the Ravens by 10 but I don’t think they cover. At 47 points I like the over here especially if the weather remains dry. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.
Baltimore Ravens hosting the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, January 11th at 8:15 PM Odds Ravens by 10 points / OU at 47
Score Ravens 30 Titans 20
Turnovers Plus 1
Net Rushing Yardage Ravens 211 Titans 132
Net Passing Yardage Ravens 189 Titans 176
• Judon gets 2 sacks
• Lamar throws for two and runs for one
• Dan Fouts commentary continues to tick off Ravens fans
• Refs make terrible calls
Keys to the Game
• Protect the rock!
• Play Ravens ball control football
• Stop Derrick Henry <110 yards