Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, who is the reigning MVP of the National Football League, searches for that elusive first playoff win as he prepares to face the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Let’s take a look at it:
AFC Wild Card Game
BALTIMORE RAVENS at TENNESSEE TITANS, 1:05 PM ET (Sunday)
BetAnySports NFL Playoff Odds: Ravens -3.5 (+100), Total 54
Jackson has been stung the last two seasons in the playoffs, and that has to be frustrating. On both of those occasions, Baltimore looked like an unstoppable offensive machine, but such was not the case.
One of those playoff defeats came at the hands of these Titans, who picked off Jackson twice on the way to a 28-12 win at M&T Bank Stadium. And despite a reputation as a nasty group, the Ravens’ defense didn’t have what it took to slow down Derrick Henry, who ran for 195 yards.
Henry’s exploits were no fluke, as he had 133 yards in another Tennessee win in Baltimore, this time by a 30-24 margin (in overtime) on November 22. And Henry is in pretty good form right now, as evidenced by his 250-yard rampage last week against Houston in a playoff-clinching win. What you may want to take note of is that despite this dominance on the ground, it took a last-second field goal by the unknown (even to most of his teammates) Sam Sloman, boinking off one of the uprights, then through them, to give the Titans their 41-38 victory.
The Ravens have won five straight down the stretch, although we can’t be overly impressed by much of it. They ARE executing, however, and perhaps all that concern from Jackson that the offense was too predictable has been addressed. Hasn’t it?
You really can’t have a heck of a lot of confidence on the part of Tennessee that they can stop Baltimore cold. Their defensive numbers are not as good as they were last season; they rank 30th in the NFL in yards allowed per drive (40.2) and also 30th in red zone TD defense (opponents being 69% successful).
Tennessee doesn’t rush the passer well; they are last in the league in Sack Percentage. Who knows if that matters; they might not be able to catch up to Jackson anyway, and they may just be better off dropping back into coverage. Baltimore’s new big boys in the backfield – aside from Jackson, who has now had back-to-back 1000-yard seasons – are Gus Edwards (723 yards) and JK Dobbins (6 ypc). The aerial attack is not real dynamic, as the Ravens had fewer yards from wide receivers than anybody.
The development of an aggressive passing attack has made the Titans more dangerous. Ryan Tannehill (65.5%, 33 TD’s, 7I(NT’s) was much better protected this season (only 24 sacks) and between AJ Brown and Corey Davis, they had over 2000 yards and 16 touchdowns. Tennessee was second overall in yards per game, and scored 30 or more points nine times. They also topped 40 on five different occasions.
The number on the total posted here is interesting to us, because even though neither of the last two meetings went over it, we get the sense they can reach it. Remember that even though they have the best running back in football (Henry), who can conceivably chew clock, these Titans have gone “OVER” in 23 of the 29 games where Tannehill has been the starting quarterback.
So we’ll go in that direction, and because Tennessee’s top offensive weapon is presumably someone Baltimore can’t stop, grabbing points at home with the Titans seems like a good idea.
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