The Baltimore Ravens can return the favor this weekend when they take on the Tennessee Titans.
The two teams met in Week 11 of the regular season and traded shots in four quarterfinals before Derrick Henry won the game with a 29-yard run for touchdown in overtime.
At that point, the Ravens’ loss took them down to 6-4, and the Steelers’ loss the next week – when Baltimore had their best production of KOVID-19 – took them down to 6-5, and they were in serious danger of missing the playoffs.
But the Raven bounced back. Baltimore has won five straight to secure a Wild Card spot. Perhaps most importantly, the crime has come to life.
The Ravens have displayed at least 400 yards of offense in four of their last five games, outright destroying their opponents by resorting to what they do best: ground attack under pressure.
Now, Baltimore has some momentum heading into Wild Card Weekend. The Ravens are looking to get revenge on the Titans, not only for their loss in Week 11, but also for last year’s loss in the AFC Divisional Round. Will they return the favor?
Here are four bold predictions for the Ravens as they prepare to play the Titans on Sunday afternoon in Tennessee.
1. Crows rushing over 200 metres
It’s no secret that the Ravens are watching the ball.
Baltimore has rushed for over 200 yards in four of its last five games, including 404 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17.
Rookie J.K. Dobbins is one of the Ravens’ most productive runners, although he shared time with Gus Edwards. Dobbins is averaging 6.0 yards this year, and he completed a 160-yard pass against the Bengals. The former Ohio State star also scored a touchdown in six consecutive games.
In fact, it was in the game against the Titans that Dobbins finally established himself as a key figure in Baltimore’s backfield. Although he had run for more than 100 yards against the Steelers a few weeks earlier, the game against the Titans marked the beginning of a series in which he earned at least 10 carries per game.
Dobbins, like Edwards, will make a big difference on Sunday. The 25-year-old has recovered from a mid-season slump and strong performances over the past two weeks suggest Edwards will make a good pairing with Dobbins.
Dan Lamar Jackson. Last time, the Titans virtually tied the NFL MVP, leaving Jackson with just 51 yards on 13 spans.
But the 24-year-old played his best football toward the end of the year, averaging nearly 7.4 yards per nest in the final two weeks of the season.
Tennessee ranks 19th in the country for the number of yards allowed and the number of yards per carry. The Titans will likely sell out to stop the race.
The Crows still found some rhythm to get the ball moving. They are also more familiar with Tennessee’s defensive concepts, which should be important as the game progresses.
Baltimore hopes to set the race early to chase the weak Titans in high school with game and race option.
Speaking of which…
2. Lamar Jackson throws three touchdown passes
Jackson did not do well against the Titans.
Tennessee signed Jackson in the divisional round last year, returning him four times and forcing him to throw two interceptions as well. Jackson made just over 52% of his attempts and was uncomfortable in the pocket throughout the game.
Week 11 presented a similar scenario. Despite the Titans’ notable defensive struggles and lack of consistency in the passing game, Jackson was able to make just over 58 percent of his passes with another interception. He was stalked throughout the game and failed to hit some deep shots down the field.
But this time things could be different, especially if the Ravens manage to beat Tennessee in the race and mount a long-goal campaign to keep the Titans off the field.
If the Titans get a full house, the Ravens have a chance to finish second to speedsters like Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin. For his part, Brown has been a more reliable target for the Red Zone in recent weeks. Mark Andrews thrives there as well, giving Jackson solid options when the Ravens resort to the action game or RPO looks to Titan territory.
There is also a simple motivating factor. Jackson is unlikely to remain silent after his last two losses to the Titans. This could be a great day.
3. Crows keep Derrick Henry within 100 yards
Let’s put it very succinctly.
In 2020, Derrick Henry became the eighth player in NFL history to run for more than 2,000 yards in a single season. He averaged 5.4 yards per coverage and 126 yards per play, plus 17 touchdowns in speed. However, the Ravens have a knack for keeping Henry largely under control.
Henry ran for 133 yards over Baltimore in the 11th week, but that’s not all. The Ravens did a great job against Henry in the first half, limiting him to 40 yards. But he escaped after the break, rushing for 96 yards and leading the Titans from an early deficit.
This is the second time Baltimore has defended against Henry and the Titans in 2020, averaging 6.6 yards per carry in the third quarter of last year’s playoffs. Simply put: It will have to be different this time if the Ravens are going to win.
Baltimore’s defense gave up 4.6 yards per carry in 2020. They must work to stop the race, just like the Titans on the other side.
Yes, the Titans have weapons in the passing game, and Ryan Tannehill is one of the most sought-after quarterbacks in football. But there is no doubt that the Tennessee offense will come through Henry, whose effort is unmatched in today’s game.
Don Wink Martindale will stack the boxes and give his high school boy the one-on-one cover. The Ravens are going to love Henry off the stat sheet, which is a good sign for the results.
4. Ravens win 27-20
If the Ravens run the ball and keep Henry in check, there’s almost no chance they lose this game.
Tennessee’s defense is vulnerable and much more susceptible to the big plays. The Titans have also run for more than 400 yards in four of their last five games, including a 200-yard run against the Green Bay Packers in Week 16.
This doesn’t bode well for the Ravens, who will be hitting on the pig in hopes of filling Henry and controlling the trenches on the other side of the ball.