The RSR Staff Unveils Their WILD Card Predictions
The Ravens head to Tennessee for Wild Card weekend, looking for some playoff revenge against the Titans. Will they get it? RSR staff predict what we will see here…
The central narrative from most analysts covering this game will be directed towards the Ravens containment of Derrick Henry and the Titans play-action passing game. But for my money, the game will be won and lost by how the Ravens offense handles the Titans defense.
Looking back at the Divisional loss last January, the Ravens moved the football well. They had 530 yards of offense and punted just once. And while we tend to think of Henry as the reason the Ravens lost that playoff game, Lamar & Co. really only had themselves to blame. They lost the turnover battle 3-0; they were 0 for 4 on fourth down attempts; they were penalized more; and they were just 1 for 4 in red zone opportunities.
But the current edition of the Titans defense is struggling. They’ve given up 34.3 points per game over their last 3 games and two of those games were against teams with a combined 9-23 record. Over their last 5 games the Titans have yielded 429.4 yards per game. It’s a track meet waiting to happen for Lamar & Co. and Mike Vrabel’s defense is the track.
So, what will happen in this trilogy between heavyweights?
• JK Dobbins will outrush Derrick Henry 130:95
• Dobbins also touches down on pay-dirt once.
• Sam Koch will punt just once
• The Ravens will control the clock to the tune of 35:00 to 25:00
• Chuck Clark gets the game’s only INT off a tipped pass by Calais Campbell
• There are two sacks in the game – both by Yannick Ngakoue
• Lamar Jackson is responsible for 3 TD’s, 2 by air, 1 by ground
We’re going to Kansas City!
Ravens 34 Titans 23
Given the history, this one scares me. The Ravens have to find a way to control Henry and make the Titans one dimensional. A.J. Brown is scary too, but if they can get a lead and play ball control, the D can get after Tannehill. While the recent history isn’t good for us, there’s always a time when things change and with the way the Ravens offense and Lamar has been clicking, it would seem that now is the time, especially given how awful Tennessee’s D has been. If they can get the running game going, they should win the game.
Head says: Titans 28 Ravens 24
Heart says: Ravens 38 Titans 27
I know some people are going to be feeling pretty confident about this game given the performance of Tennessee’s defense this year. That’s understandable, but I think you have to look at how they have played Baltimore specifically. The answer to that is that they match up with the Ravens really well. Their play callers have done a good job against option concepts and they’ve done well to take away the middle of the field.
It’ll be a battle of two juggernaut offenses, but I think the defenses make quite a few stops and the score is a little lower than most expect. Baltimore prevails on a Justin Tucker field goal late after Lamar moves the ball through the air in a two-minute drill. He moves his team on and ends all the Jackson playoff narratives.
You love to see it.
Ravens 23 Titans 20
— The Ravens have mostly distanced themselves from the narrative of breaking a two-year losing streak in the playoffs, but the dynamic is certainly hanging over the franchise.
— The Titans are a higher seed and playing at home, yet they are still 3.5-point underdogs. Tennessee has also beaten Baltimore in the past two meetings.
— Once again, though, the Ravens are a better team on paper. Baltimore is running the ball more effectively and is more talented on defense.
— The Ravens will win this game if the defense can contain Derrick Henry. If Henry is held to less than 90 yards, Baltimore will be in a position to move onto the next round.
— In Week 11, Henry finished with 133 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown run in overtime, which gave the Titans a spirited 30-24 victory. Both Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams were sidelined with injuries. Both players will be back in the lineup this weekend and that will be vital to the Ravens’ chances.
— Over the Ravens’ five-game winning streak to end the regular season, Jackson has thrown for 809 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. Jackson has also run for 430 yards with another four scores. He’ll keep that momentum in this wild-card game.
— The Ravens are playing their best football of this season and they finally get over the hump.
Ravens 34 Titans 31
The Ravens come into this game with a raging hangover of two one-and-done playoff losses. And like most hangovers, the cure is a fatty and greasy meal you can attack — in this case, that meal would be the Tennessee defense. I expect quarterback Lamar Jackson to play his sharpest game in the postseason. He may still miss some throws but he won’t be as mistake-prone trying to win the game on his own. He won’t need to because the rest of the offense will help him out. Baltimore will also do just enough on the defensive side of the ball against a potent Tennessee offense to overcome their playoff demons.
They get the monkey off their collective backs.
Ravens 41 Titans 24
This is most likely the game of the weekend, as two formerly bitter rivals matchup in another big game. Perhaps Ravens/Titans fully has its edge back, as I expect this to be a chippy, hard-fought game with multiple skirmishes.
– I’ll start with the biggest question: The Ravens don’t hold Henry to under 100 yards, but they do keep him under 150. He goes for just under 135 and two scores, which is a valiant effort by the defense, in all honesty.
– With Henry unable to take over the game in his dominant way, Tennessee allows Baltimore to climb back from two deficits. The first is an early 10-point lead, while the second is a six-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
– Lamar Jackson plays turnover free football but isn’t his electric self, either. He throws for two TDs but only rushes for around 50 yards. Meanwhile, Dobbins is held in check, as well, only rushing for 65. yards and one TD.
– In the end, Baltimore shows they can play from behind, Lamar proves he can win in the playoffs, and the defense proves they can make hold up by making one clutch play late.
Ravens 27 Titans 23
Will the third time be a charm for the Charm City Ravens? By third time that could mean Lamar’s playoff performances or a game against the Titans for the third time. Both of them need to be overcome this weekend. This time Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell will be playing and should make a significant difference in stopping the run. The Ravens actually did a very nice job of that last time but with a game that went into overtime proved to be too much for a team short on defensive linemen. Derrick Henry is just the start of concerns because the big plays come off of play-action to the plethora of dangerous weapons the Titans have.
Right now the Ravens look like the hottest team in the league. Lamar Jackson is playing at last year’s MVP level and the entire team is feeding off of that energy. I think the Ravens are going into the playoffs in a much better situation than they were last year.
— Lamar Jackson will run for 80 yards and a touchdown and have three passing touchdowns.
— TE Eric Tomlinson will get his first touchdown reception as a Raven.
— J.K Dobbins will rush for more yards than Derrick Henry and also have a rushing touchdown.
— Anthony Averett will have his first career interception.
— Calais Campbell will have a batted pass and a sack.
— Marlon Humphrey will force a fumble out of A.J Brown’s hands.
Ravens 38 Titans 27
It’s time to exorcise some demons. Lamar Jackson is 0-2 as a playoff starter, and while that’s not abnormal in the least for any NFL quarterback, even “stars” or those of the “franchise” variety (Joe Flacco spoiled us a bit in that regard; let’s be honest), the narrative sticks harder to Lamar for one reason and one reason only: his style of play. This is the year he shuts those folks up, and it starts Sunday in Nashville.
— Jackson runs for a 20+ yard score, throws for another (to Miles Boykin), and adds in a TD on a shovel pass to Marquise Brown from inside the 10.
— The Steelers beat the Covid-depleted Browns, the Bills take care of the Colts, and the Ravens are headed to Arrowhead to continue the Revenge Tour.
Ravens 30 Titans 20
The revenge game is finally here. The Ravens get to take out a year’s worth of frustration on the team that derailed their dream 2019 season.
In last year’s playoff loss, the Ravens were outcoached and outmuscled. I don’t foresee that happening this year…
This Tennessee team is not the same as last year. Their defense has struggled and getting a hot Ravens team in Round 1 is probably not what they were hoping for. As long as the Ravens can keep penalties to a minimum and not turn the ball over, I think they’ll win easily.
The Ravens are 7-2 ATS in their last nine playoff games. Tennessee is 6-22 straight up in their last 28 games as a home underdog.
Ravens 34 Titans 23
I genuinely don’t know what to think of this game. To be honest, I’ve been doing mental gymnastics this week to avoid even thinking about it, out of sheer fear of the elephant in the room. The ‘what if.’ The reason to expect the ‘pitchforks to come out’ once again in Baltimore.
What if the Ravens lose a third consecutive playoff game after being favored in all three games?
It’s a terrifying thought… but looking at this game, it’s terribly difficult to see how the Ravens lose. Then again, we said the same thing in the past two Januarys and, well… you know.
Baltimore’s offense is thriving of late, notably on the ground, and it seems to be timed out fairly well with the return of Lamar Jackson’s assault on opposing defenses that way. In essence, when Lamar began to take off more? The offense overall began to thrive once again. It’s obviously not just Lamar’s ground yards, but reinserting that ‘fear factor’ for opposing defenses has opened up more running lanes, as well as more success in the passing game for the Ravens, as defenses are now paying more mind to Lamar’s legs once again. Greg Roman is back to playing chess and I love it.
Add in the coming out part for J.K. Dobbins, an offensive line that, despite losing a few starters, seems to be jelling, and now you put that up against a Titans defense that’s been more porous than Capitol Building security?
It’s a match made in heaven that favors the Ravens.
On the other side of the ball, the Ravens defense surely has a tall task. Derrick Henry has continued to take the Ravens defense to task… but lest we forget, the last matchup between the two teams had both Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams sidelined. The interior force that these two behemoths create cannot be understated, so with the understanding that both are going to be clogging up Henry’s lanes on Sunday? Ravens fans should have even more confidence in their front seven to slow down the NFL rushing leader.
Realistically, I think this game is won by Baltimore through the means of a fast start: score, score often, and score early. If the Ravens can get up two scores early, and hold or extend that lead, they’ll force the Titans to become pass-happy, thus diminishing Henry’s role. When Henry carries the ball 23 times or less, the Titans have lost every game (0-5). Likewise, Tannehill has thrown five of his seven picks in games where he’s had to throw it 27 times or more.
The recipe for success is clear. It’s just a matter of whether the Ravens can pull it off & get the monkey off their back.
The pessimist in me just doesn’t see it, unfortunately. The Ravens will keep the game close- even lead at some junctures- but ultimately the Titans ground game will wear the Ravens defense down, just as it did earlier this season. Tannehill is not prone to mistakes, and he’ll keep a clean stat sheet on Sunday, which is going to be the real difference maker for a well-oiled Titans offense that knows how to eat clock, eat yards, and turn opposing defenses into a pile of exhausted bodies by the 4th quarter. Ultimately, this game will come down to the final possession – a game-winning field goal drive – with the Titans victorious. The pitchforks will be out in Baltimore, Roman’s job will be called for by fans, and Lamar Jackson will have to carry the stigma for his entire team (undeservedly so) for another season.
Titans 30 Ravens 27