Some analysts want to dismiss the notion that a game in Week 10 is a must-win.
Forget about that notion. Sunday is a must-win for the Ravens. If they can’t beat a (2-6) team with a rookie quarterback at M&T Bank Stadium, they are NOT a team with much of a future in 2014.
Clearly CBS doesn’t think much of the game, assigning the not-so-dynamic duo of Andrew Catalon and Steve Beuerlein. Vegas set the line at 10 – advantage Ravens.
It shouldn’t even be that close.
Here are 5 subplots I’ll be focused upon.
MONROE SHOCKS: Since his return from minor knee surgery Eugene Monroe has played poorly – really no better than before the surgery. He will find himself head up on the Titans stout D-lineman Jurrell Casey at times who can be relentless. Monroe has length on Casey and his initial punch will be key. The same holds true for Kelechi Osemele.
A TANGLED WEBB: No more excuses for Lardarius Webb. No more dismissing poor play to missing camp. He’s had plenty of game action now to be battle-tested and be ready to play like the player the Ravens paid handsomely. If the Ravens are going to have a chance at a postseason run, Webb needs to get back to form.
PEES PLAN: Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees is much bolder against less established quarterbacks and if he is true to form he’ll aggressively go after rookie signal caller Zach Mettenberger. The Ravens defense should look like sharks in blood-infested waters. If not, it could be a sign of bigger issues.
ZO TIME: The Titans field the NFL’s 23rd ranked defense and they are 28th ranked against the run. With little chance of a loss, it’s time for Gary Kubiak to get Lorenzo Taliaferro cranked up this week and help put that fumble in Pittsburgh behind him. They need to get the running game going and build some momentum heading into New Orleans where the ground attack will be critical if the Ravens plan to steal a road win in the Crescent City.
OLE’: The Ravens get to say hello to an old friend – Michael Oher. Oher has struggled as a Titan, often resembling a matador when taking on pass rushers. He grades out as the 60th best pass blocking tackle and 71st best overall according to Pro Football Focus’ ranking of 74 offensive tackles. He’s likely to get plenty of tight end help to neutralize Elvis Dumervil who has 8 sacks on the season. If not, Doom could be like a kid on Christmas morning.
QB Zach Mettenberger had a 299-yard, 2-TD performance – the rookie’s first-career start – against the Texans in Week 8…TE Delanie Walker has been a top target in 2014, leading Tennessee with 475 receiving yards and tying for the most catches (35) and TDs (4) on the team…Keep an eye on Titans’ FS Michael Griffin who has 3 sacks on the season. The Ravens haven’t been effective picking up delayed blitzers attacking the A-gap…With 11 yards Justin Forsett will break his career high mark in rushing yards for a season (619)…Owen Daniels needs 55 receiving yards to reach the 5,000 yard career mark. He would be just the 35th tight end ever to do so. Comparatively speaking Todd Heap had 5,869 yards receiving.