Ravens v. Titans, Divisional Playoff Game
There’s no denying that Derrick Henry is a beast and if the Ravens are going to be successful on Saturday night during their Divisional Playoff Game, they’ll need to slay this monster. In two career games against the Ravens, Henry has 47 yards on 15 carries (3.1 YPC). He is an improved back since the Ravens last met up with the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner. Oh, and according to Wikipedia, Henry is also the Patriots owner.
Pompousness aside, look for the Ravens to invest their resources to contain the bruising tailback, just like Martindale did when his unit clamped down on Nick Chubb on December 22, limiting the Browns best offensive weapon to 45 yards on 15 carries. Just like they did with Mayfield and his impressive array of pass catching weapons, the Ravens will force Ryan Tannehill to beat them – and he won’t. For the record, the Titans are (7-0) when Derrick Henry rushes for 100+ yards. They are (1-2) when Ryan Tannehill throws 30+ times.
Wear and Tear
Henry missed Week 16 due to a hamstring injury and it would be naïve to think that he’s at 100 percent, particularly after a league-leading 303 carries and single-game highs over the past two weeks of 32 and 34 carries, respectively. Making the challenge even more daunting, Saturday will be the Titans third consecutive road game and it will happen against a Ravens team that is well-rested.
Lamar Jackson, as humble as he is, still carries a few chips on his shoulder. He felt dissed during the 2018 NFL Draft and that fuels his quest for a Super Bowl title. Lamar is (19-3) as a starter during the regular season but two of those losses were at the hands of the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes. Let’s call that chip No. 2. He’ll get a chance at redemption next week.
Chip No. 3 is this – Lamar is (0-1) in the playoffs and that loss to the Chargers has been gnawing at him for just north of a full calendar year. Standing in his way on that road to redemption are the Tennessee Titans.
You picking up what I’m putting down?
Titans Tight End Trouble
Lamar’s favorite target is Mark Andrews and the Titans struggle to cover tight ends. In fact, Dean Pees’ defense ranks 26th in yards allowed to tight ends. When the former Ravens DC puts 8 in the box it will place pressure on his single-high safety to cover the Ravens Pro Bowl TE and that will then give Marquise Brown an opportunity to hit a home run, lined up in single coverage against the nicked up Adoree Jackson.
The Weather is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful
The only thing holding back Lamar – the only thing in this game, will not be dressed in a Titans uniform. Mother Nature and her rain is the only thing that will slow No. 8 in this divisional playoff game. Otherwise, look for 200+ yards by air and another 100+ by ground for the soon-to-be-named MVP.
The game time forecast as of this writing calls for temperatures in the mid to upper 50’s with a 68% chance of periods of rain, winds at 15 MPH with gusts to 18 MPH.
The Titans offensive line is very efficient in the run game. As pass blockers, not so much. The Titans have allow 56 sacks on the season, exactly double that of the Ravens. The 56 sacks also rank second in the league, behind the Dolphins and Panthers who each gave up 58 sacks. BUT, the Titans attempted 167 fewer passes than Miami and 185 less than Carolina. As a percent of drop backs, Titans QBs went down a league leading 11.1% of the time and that’s with the benefit of play action and the NFL’s leading rusher in Henry. Last season the Ravens sacked Marcus Mariota 11 times against a very similar offensive line. Only the two starting guards (Roger Saffold III and Nate Davis) have changed in 2019.
Win first down, force second/third and long down and distance situations, force the Titans into pass protection and it will be a long evening for Tennessee.
Scout Teaming Lamar
Earlier this week, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said that Marcus Mariota was running the scout team, simulating Lamar Jackson, as they prepare for the divisional playoff.
That’s pretty funny.
Probably the closest thing to Lamar that Pees and the Titans defense have encountered over the past couple of seasons is DeShaun Watson. In his four career games against Tennessee, Watson has racked up 170 yards on 25 carries (6.8 YPC) and 2 TDs on his way to a (3-1) record.
DeShaun Watson is no Lamar Jackson.
The Titans have the No. 1 Red Zone offense in the league going against the Ravens No. 3 ranked Red Zone defense. Meanwhile the Ravens have the No. 2 ranked Red Zone offense going up against the Titans No. 31 ranked Red Zone defense.
For those concerned about the Ravens losing momentum with next week off, consider this:
* Since 2009 (10 seasons) the home team record in Divisional Games is 31-9 (.775).
* Those games have been won by an average of 11.9 points. 14 wins were by 7 points or less.
After a regular season bye, the Ravens are 10-2 under John Harbaugh beating teams by an average of 10.9 points (315 v. 184). The Ravens have had only 1 playoff bye, v. Texans in 2011. They won that game 20-13, which moves their overall record after a bye to (11-2).
— GMFB (@gmfb) January 8, 2020
Remember The Titans
Good movie. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. After Saturday, it will be the only chance you get to see the Titans until next September.
Prediction: Ravens 34, Titans 17
— Tony Lombardi (@RSRLombardi) January 2, 2020