NASHVILLE, Tenn. –Fresh off their bye week, the Titans (2-6) begin the second half of the season with a road game against the Baltimore Ravens (5-4) from M&T Bank Stadium. Both teams enter the game desperate for a win as the Ravens have lost two in a row and find themselves at the bottom of the AFC North.
These two franchises share plenty of bitter history against each other, including three playoff games. Each team has 10 wins against the other with the Titans 9-8 in the regular season and the Ravens 2-1 in the postseason. Tennessee won the latest matchup, a 26-13 victory at LP Field on Sept. 18, 2011.
Sunday's game will be Zach Mettenberger's second career start and first road game as an NFL starter. The rookie threw for 299 yards, two touchdowns and one interception against the Texans in Week 9.
Milestones on the Horizon
• Kendall Wright needs seven receptions to reach 200 for his career. If he reaches 200 on Sunday, he'll be the first receiver in Titans history to reach the milestone in 40 career games.
• Wright needs one touchdown to establish a new single-season high (five).
• Shonn Greene needs 91 rushing yards to reach 4,000 for his career.
Five Things to Watch
1. The Mett Show: Act 2
Even though most of Metteberger's 299 yards and both touchdowns against Houston came in the second half, he displayed the arm strength and pocket presence that earned him the Titans' starting job. Mettenberger will face his first road test in one of the NFL's most hostile environments, but an extra week of preparation should give him an added level of comfort with the playbook.
There should be plenty of opportunities in the passing game, which leads us to no. two.
2. Let it Fly
Of all of Baltimore's strengths, the team's secondary hasn't been one of them. The Ravens' pass defense is ranked 26th in the NFL, despite Baltimore having the 12th-ranked defense overall. The team's top cornerback, Jimmy Smith, was placed on IR this week with season-ending surgery on his foot.
The Ravens allow 263.2 yards per game through the air and Ben Roethlisberger torched them for 340 yards and six touchdowns just last week. After the primetime debacle, the Ravens cut cornerbacks Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks. They signed Danny Gorrer in free agency and promoted Tramain Jacobs from the practice squad to fill the void.
Ladarius Webb is the only remaining starter at corner for the Ravens. That means Zach Mettenberger should holes to exploit on Sunday. If the offensive line can protect the rookie QB, it could be a big day for Justin Hunter, Kendall Wright and the rest of the Titans receiving corps.
- Get to Flacco**
The Steelers sacked Joe Flacco four times in their Week 9 win against the Ravens. Repeating Pittsburgh's performance won't be easy, however, as Baltimore has allowed just 13 sacks this season (sixth in the NFL).
The matchup will be strength vs. strength with the Titans' defense posting 23 sacks this season (tied for ninth in the NFL). It's been a group effort in Tennessee – 14 members of the Titans defense have sacks, that's tops in the NFL.
4. Stay Ahead of the Sticks
Penalties and the inability to convert on third downs have been key storylines of the Titans' first half of 2014 and two points of emphasis for the team's final eight games. Winning on first and second down will allow Tennessee's offense to set up manageable third down situations. Third-and-three will be a nice change of pace from the third-and-longs the Titans have become accustomed to.
5. Spoil the Homecoming
The Ravens will be hungry for a win following consecutive divisional road defeats to the Bengals and Steelers in weeks nine and 10 respectively. M&T Bank Stadium has been a house of horrors for road opponents in recent years. Baltimore is 3-1 at home this season and 42-10 since 2008. The last time the Ravens lost more than two home games in a single season was 2007.
That said, the Titans are 4-3 all-time at M&T Bank Stadium, including 1-0 in the playoffs. The last time these two teams met in Baltimore was in October of 2008, with the Titans winning 13-10.