Updated: Jan 11
The AFC South Champion, the Tennessee Titans will square off with the Wild Card, Baltimore Ravens, on the second day of Super-Wild Card Weekend, Sunday the 10th at 1:05 Eastern. Here is the preview of this widely anticipated game, along with key matchups and how the Titans can win. Also, I will be giving what I think will happen on the scoreboard.
Of the last three times these two teams have met, Tennessee is 2-1, including the game where they shocked everyone, beating Baltimore 28-12 in the Divisional round last season. As of late, the Ravens have been red-hot, blowing out the Bengals, 38-3 in Week 17 to clinch a playoff berth. The Titans have won 2 of their last three but beat two losing teams. Tennessee is the 4-seed, so the game will be played in Nashville, and the Ravens will get two phenomenal run-stoppers back, Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams, who missed the regular-season matchup between these teams. Look for the Ravens to play with fire and try to rewrite everything, and that all starts with beating the Titans.
Keys to Winning for the Titans
PHOTO CREDIT: Will Newton / Getty Images
Dominate the Time of Possession
This is so important. If they control the time of possession, not by a bit, but by a lot, that will force the Ravens to make Lamar Jackson throw, and Baltimore can’t rely on the run. Also, that means the Ravens defense will get tired if Tennessee can get long drives, and the Titans defensive unit can rest, regroup, and refocus on what the Baltimore offense is doing and how they can stop them. The biggest thing however is if Lamar and co don’t have the football, they can’t score. If they can’t score, they can’t win.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sharp Football Analysis
Force Lamar into 3rd and Longs
This one is very hard to do, especially with the Tennessee pass rush, but if the 4 sacks they got on Deshaun Watson last week, can come to this game, it can happen. When the Ravens are forced into 3rd and longs, they can’t use their strength. Running the football. Baltimore will be forced to throw, and are missing 2 tight ends from last year’s group, Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle. The Ravens love to use tight ends and are being forced to adjust to using receivers more. But don’t be fooled here. The Ravens receivers are good, but they aren’t like the Chiefs where you have a 3rd and 20, and BOOM! First down. They just aren’t like that.
PHOTO CREDIT: Andrew Nelles / Tennesseean.com
Bend don't break defense
In the first half of the Texans game last week, Houston got only 9 points in the first half. If Tennessee can limit the Ravens scoring that would be suburb since 6>3. The Titan's offense benefits from this, so they can prevent the game from becoming a track meet. Also look for the Titans to try and do what they did in last year’s matchup, in which they allowed only two field goals in the first half.
PHOTO CREDIT: Eric Christain Smith
The Ravens are one of the best in this department, with kicker Justin Tucker and punter Sam Koch. Tennessee also has a great punter in Brett Kern, but in the kicking department that is the opposite. Stephen Gostkowski has been up-and-down this season and is currently on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. If he is unavailable, then the kicking duties will fall on rookie Sam Sloman, who sent Tennessee here. Even though Sloman was perfect on all kicks, doesn’t mean Titans fans should be relieved. Sloman was 8-11 on field goals and was 18-21 on PAT’s with the Rams before being cut. Another big thing to remember is that last week coach Mike Vrabel opted to go for it on 4th and 11 on around the Texans 37-yard line, instead of letting Sloman attempt a 54 yarder. Hopefully, the Tennessee offense can make his only kicks extra points.
PHOTO CREDIT: USA TODAY / Titans Wire
This is the bread-and-butter for the Titans. Rely on Derrick Henry to have a big day, and open the playbook up for Ryan Tannehill’s play-action strikes to AJ Brown and Corey Davis. If you can stop the run, then that forces Tannehill to throw. But with Campbell and Williams back for the Ravens, can the O-line move them to create running lanes? They’ll have to. Tennessee’s playoff hopes depend on it.
Matchups to Watch
PHOTO CREDIT: Bryan M. Bennett / Getty Images
AJ Brown and Corey Davis vs. Marlon Humphery and Marcus Peters
Brown and Davis will be matched up vs. two outstanding corners in Humphery and Peters. If the Titans receivers can win these matchups then Tennessee has a great shot at winning. The only problem with that is the two receivers winning. Both Peters and Humphery are great in coverage and both are versatile ballhawks. So, what would help the Titans is if Brown and Davis can create separation so Tannehill can give them the ball. If so, their run-after-the-catch will be activated and both Brown and Davis excel at it.
PHOTO CREDIT: USA TODAY / Titans Wire
Titans O-line vs. Ravens Front Seven
If the Tennessee offensive line can move Baltimore lineman and get to the next level, then look for King Henry to rule once more. The key for the Ravens front seven is getting Campbell and Williams to clog holes and stop Henry. If that does happen the linebackers can swarm the King and stop him. If not Henry will be able to inflict pain into the Ravens secondary, the way he did last January. On the passing side of the ball, Tennessee’s o-line MUST be able to give Tannehill time! We saw in Week 16 against the Packers when Tannehill is getting sacked, the offense can’t move the ball. The line has to hold a give Ryan time to throw.
PHOTO CREDIT: Russell Street Report
Titans Secondary vs. Ravens Speedy Wideouts
Adoree’ Jackson, this is your time to shine. Please come out and play some coverage, please! The Ravens have two fast wideouts in Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, and Devin Duvernay, so if Adoree’ can keep up with them and shut ‘em down, that would be a blessing! But whether or not it happens the rest of the secondary like Kevin Byard, Kenny Vaccaro, and Malcolm Butler will have to come ready to play and will have to win their battles. Vaccaro and Byard each came up with picks last January, and Amani Hooker had a pick in Week 11. If Jackson throws it up, Tennessee will have to come down with it.
PHOTO CREDIT: Juilo Cortez / Associated Press
Derrick Henry vs. Ravens ‘Backers
Henry is a huge bruising back, and the Ravens linebackers will try to stop him. I think the linebackers for the Ravens will limit him in the first half, but Henry just wears defenses down. Just keep feeding him the rock and slowly he’ll get the yards. That is a defense’s ultimate nightmare.
I think the Titans will end up starting slow and will dig themselves into a hole early. The Tennessee defense just can’t stop the Ravens as many times as they need, and Baltimore scores on 4 drives.
Score Going Into Halftime: 24-10, Baltimore
Then in the 2nd half, Tennessee’s offense comes to life but the hole was too deep and the Titans are stuck. The Titans defense doesn’t help and Baltimore gets their revenge.
Final Score: 37-31, Baltimore