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Who Should Ravens Fans Want in Round 2?

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As a reward for their NFL best 14-2 regular season record, the Ravens get an extra week off to get ready for the divisional round of the playoffs. The coaching staff gets extra time to prepare and the players get an extra week to heal from any lingering bumps and bruises. During Wild Card Weekend, the Ravens get to sit back, relax and learn who their opponent will be. Due to their number one seeding, the Ravens will host either the AFC’s four, five or six seed in their divisional round game.

If the red-hot Tennessee Titans are able to upset the Patriots in Foxborough, the Ravens would face the Ryan Tannehill-led Titans. If the Patriots win that contest, the Ravens will play the winner of the game between the Bills and the Texans for a place in the AFC Championship game.

In this week’s special edition of Battle Plans, we review the three teams that the Ravens could face in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Houston Texans (#4 Seed)

Previous Meeting: Week 11 – Win, 41 – 7

Why the Ravens would want to play Houston:

The final score of the Week 11 contest almost speaks for itself. In what was billed as the best game of the weekend and a battle between two of the NFL’s best teams, the Ravens absolutely embarrassed the Texans. Lamar Jackson completed over 70% of his passes for 222 yards and four touchdowns. On the ground, Gus Edwards led Baltimore on the way to 256 rush yards.

On the other side of the ball, Wink Martindale’s defense made the afternoon a nightmare for Deshaun Watson. While he was able to complete a respectable 62% of his passes, Watson was held to just 169 yards passing and threw one interception to go along with zero touchdowns and lost a fumble. The Texans QB looked flustered and was sacked seven times. They would never say it publicly, but the Ravens would have to feel very confident about a rematch against the Texans.

Why they wouldn’t:

Watson and Deandre Hopkins make the Texans a dangerous team. Watson is a top-tier QB who has the ability to take over a game and make life very difficult for opposing defenses. His mobility and capability to extend plays can make defenses operate “off schedule” and Watson makes more than his fair share of magical plays.

Watson is, without a doubt, helped by the fact that he has one of the best WRs in the league to throw to. Hopkins can make the best CBs in the world look silly and can change the course of a game. He’s a big WR who is as dangerous on a jump ball as he is on a quick screen pass. The Texans don’t have a ton of depth, but a team with one of the league’s best QBs and best WRs can win any game.

Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills (#5 Seed)

Previous Meeting: Week 14 – Win, 24 – 17

Why the Ravens would want to play Buffalo:

In the event of a divisional round rematch, the Ravens’ 24 – 17 win over the Bills in Buffalo would give them confidence. In Week 14, the Ravens defense held Buffalo to just 17 points on 146 yards passing and 104 yards rushing. The Bills found success running the ball outside the tackles, but Josh Allen completed just 43.5% of his passes and misfired on several big play opportunities. The Bills defense is good, but it’s tough to see Allen and their offense outpacing the Ravens in M&T Bank Stadium.

Why they wouldn’t:

Buffalo’s defense was one of the most successful at slowing the Baltimore’s offense during the regular season. They were aided by heavy winds and a home crowd, but the Bills held the Ravens offense to their lowest yardage total (257) of the year. Lamar Jackson threw for only 145 yards and the run game barely broke the 100-yard mark. Having had success against the Ravens offense in their first meeting, the Bills would have a blueprint to build on in a rematch. The Bills would be tough to beat a second time if they controlled the pace of the game and held the Ravens to around 100 ground yards again.

Tennessee Titans/Mark Zeleski

Tennessee Titans (#6 Seed)

Previous Meeting: N/A

Why the Ravens would want to play Tennessee:

Greg Roman, Lamar Jackson and the rest of the Ravens offense have more than delivered on John Harbaugh’s offseason promise of a revolutionary offense. They’re running an offense unlike any other in the league and are now the holders of the all-time team rushing record. The Titans are the only team in the AFC playoffs that the Ravens did not play during the 2019 regular season.

Unlike the Texans and the Bills, they don’t have the advantage of already having played Jackson and the Ravens offense. The Titans would have a difficult time preparing for the Ravens in the divisional round.

(Ed note: Also, Dean “Swiss” Pees.)

Why they wouldn’t:

Headed into the postseason, the Titans may be the hottest team in the NFL. They won seven of their last ten games on their way to their Wild Card spot and have looked dangerous in recent weeks. With his size and speed, Derrick Henry is a unique back who would present the Ravens defense with a lot of challenges.

While it would have been absolutely unbelievable at the start of the 2019 NFL season, Ryan Tannehill was named the AFC’s offensive player of the month for December. After taking over for Marcus Mariota as the Titans’ starting QB, Tannehill went on to have an incredible season for Tennessee.

In December, Tannehill completed 90 of his 132 passes for 1,322 yards with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. If Tannehill and Henry continue their hot streak against New England, they’d be carrying dangerous momentum and extraordinary confidence in their divisional round matchup with the Ravens.

My choice?

On December 30th, I ran a twitter poll asking my followers which team they’d like the Ravens to play in the divisional round. As of writing this, 49.5% of roughly 1200 votes were for the Houston Texans.

I am going to have to agree with the voters on this. Despite their experience against the 2019 Ravens and the return of J.J. Watt from injury for the postseason, I simply don’t believe that the Texans have the talent to stop the Ravens or the weapons to outscore Baltimore’s potent offense.

Give me Houston in the divisional round.

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