NASHVILLE – The Titans face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
Here's a look at six things to watch:
Feed the King
We all remember what happened the last time the Titans played in Baltimore. Running back Derrick Henry ran 30 times for 195 yards, and he left former Ravens defender Earl Thomas spinning around like a top. Well, the Titans need to once again lean on Henry against a Baltimore defense that's allowing 4.51 yards per carry. Henry, who has 946 rushing yards on the season, has seen his carries dip a bit in recent weeks. The Titans would like to crank Henry up once again against the Ravens and pound away. With a banged up offensive line, it could be the biggest key to success on Sunday.
Contain Lamar Jackson
The Titans did an excellent job against the Ravens dynamic quarterback a year ago, limiting his effectiveness as a passer while frustrating him. But Jackson ran for 143 yards on that game, and after nine games this season he once again leads the Ravens with 524 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Since the start of the 2019 season, no team has more rushing yards than the Ravens (4,772 yards, 190.9 yards per game), thanks in large part to Jackson (1,730 yards). The Titans need to keep Jackson in check once again.
Things haven't gone so well for the Titans here in recent weeks, where punting and kicking and protection and coverage have all been problematic at times. The Titans need kicker Stephen Gostkowski to settle down and settle in, whether it's from close range, or from 50 yards out. And a game after punter Trevor Daniel's forgettable Thursday night, the Titans need to be better in the punting game because Brett Kern won't be running out of that tunnel in Baltimore.
The Titans continue to lead the NFL in the takeaway/giveaway category with a plus 10, thanks to 14 forced turnovers and just four giveaways. The Ravens, meanwhile, are a plus-3 (14/11). In last year's playoff contest, the Titans intercepted Jackson twice while also forcing a fumble. The team also rose up to make a big fourth down stop in the game. The Titans need to be opportunistic on the road.
Clean Up Mistakes
The Titans have lost three of the last four, in part because of mistakes on both sides of the football. Offensively, the team has cooled off in the red zone, and there have been too many drops. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill's completion percentage has lowered of late as the offense has stalled more frequently. Defensively, while things have improved on third down, the team has still made too many mistakes, and without a consistent pass rush, it's led to a lot of yardage, and points allowed. The Titans have blamed themselves following recent losses. It's time to clean up mistakes against a formidable Ravens squad.
Long-time Titans fans know what the pain of losing as a No.1 seed in the playoffs feels like, thanks to the Ravens. It happened during the 2000 season, and again in 2008. Well, the Titans ended Baltimore's season back on January 11 with a 28-12 win at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens were haunted by that loss all offseason, and will surely be fired up to get some revenge. Emotions will be high in this one, even if the game will be played without fans. Controlling emotions and weathering surges will be key.