8:15 PM ET, Saturday, January 11, 2020
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
One thrilling game is coming on Saturday when the Tennessee Titans (10-7) travel to M&T Bank Stadium try and take upon what many consider to be the best team in the NFL right now – the Baltimore Ravens (14-2). The Ravens are already in an advantage in the playoffs with a 2-1 record, but although the Titans arrive at this game after a great win against the Patriots, beating the Ravens is a very different story and a more difficult (did we say “impossible”?) on to pull off.
There are so many things to say about Baltimore’s fantastic season. Starting with their 12 straight wins, meaning they didn’t lose since September! So, they arrive at the playoffs in good shape, maintaining a high performance until the last regular season’s game against the Steelers despite playing with substitutes and keeping megastar QB Lamar Jackson on ice for the playoffs.
Jackson is one of the three quarterbacks that may become the first to win a Superbowl having played only 3 years of College Football. He lead the team in with 1,206 yards this season, and with Mark Ingram (1,018 yards in total and 5 yards per attempt) free of injuries the Ravens will have a strong running attack. So with a quarterback rushing 113.3, and passing 288.9 yards per game, Baltimore can inflict a lot of damage both on the ground and in the air.
On the defensive side, Chuck Clark led the team with 73 tackles and Matthew Judon is the one who will put more pressure on Titans QB Ryan Tannehill. , He went for 9.5 sacks in the regular season. As always, Earl Thomas will play an important role in maintaining the Ravens’ excellent performance in third-down conversions allowed (37.11%) while the offense achieved 47.06 in the third-down department, mostly thanks to the Lamar Jackson’s work. The main task of the defense: to stop Derrick Henry, an arduous task!
Indeed, this is a game of strengths; the Titans have the leading running back in the league, Derrick Henry, who posted 1,540 total rushing yards in the regular season. Henry also was responsible for 73.6% of the Titans’ total yards against the Patriots. The Titans allowed 98 rushing yards per game in the regular season when playing on the road.
Tennessee’s win over the Tom Brady Bunch came as a big surprise to many, but looking at the Patriots’ offensive performance (ranked 15th in total yards in the regular season) and their running capability, that result wasn’t that huge a surprise.
The real test will be this game against the Ravens. They have to repeat something similar to the 182 Derrick Henry’s rushing yards against the Patriots, but this is something that the Ravens anticipate, as Earl Thomas said on Thursday: “I think if (Ryan) Tannehill tries to pass, I don’t think that goes in his favor,” We know they will try to run the ball.”
Why can’t the Titans depend that much on Tannehill? Well, they had 223.9 passing yards per game. Tannehill had a 117.5 quarterback rating and the team performed better with him after replacing Marcus Mariota, but the team was ranked 21st in the league in total passing yards. So in other words, the Titans don’t have players that able to extend plays by air enough to overcome the Ravens’ passing defense which is ranked 6th in the league, allowing only 207.2 yards per game.
So How Will it Go?
The million dollar question of this game is whether or not the Titans will be able to stop Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ offense, and if Derrick Henry can run for more than 100 yards (the magic number to establish a rushing game and increase the chances of winning). But the odds against the Titans, mostly because of the Ravens’ diverse offense, as it’s hard to tell which attack Jackson and crew will pull out of the bag next.
Final Score: Ravens to win 24-17 but do not cover the spread
Spread: Titans +10 (56%) / 49ers -10 (44%)
O/U: 45.5 Over (58%) / Under (42%)