If you’re overly concerned that about the Tennessee Titans offensive attack, you’re not giving the defense of the Baltimore Ravens enough credit:
The Baltimore Ravens are strong on the defensive side of the ball. Ravens fans have already begun to overthink this one as nerves for the playoff contest set in for the week. The Titans have won four straight road games. They just knocked off the Patriots in Gillette Stadium and Derrick Henry is having a season to be remembered. It all adds up to a concoction of worry that shouldn’t be on the table for the Ravens’ faithful.
The Ravens have a top 10 defense when it comes to points allowed per game, passing yards allowed per game and rushing yards per game. The Ravens only give up 17.6 points per contest and the Ravens have protected leads better than any team in football during their 12 game win streak. Henry is good. I get it, but so are the Ravens.
There have been three teams who had a decent amount of success on the ground against the Ravens. The Browns had Nick Chubb rampage against the Ravens to the tune of 164 yards and three touchdowns. The Buffalo Bills had Devin Singletary get close to 100 yards against Baltimore. Raheem Mostert rushed for 146 yards for the 49ers in a tough game in Baltimore. Being worried about Henry and the Titans is rooted in the memory of these three games.
Here is some perspective for you. The Browns game changed a lot for this team. Since then the Ravens have been able to make most of their opponents one dimensional and let their pass defense win the battle. The 49ers and Bills had most of their success by breaking big runs to the outside. Their games were all about stretching out the defense and beating the Ravens on the perimeter. That’s not what Tennessee does.
Sure the Titans will try the stretch play a few extra times in this game, however they do most of their work within the tackle box. Their goal is to bully the Ravens and to let Henry churn out tough yards right up the gut. The Titans run game is good, however it is the type of run game that Baltimore is prepared to at least slow down.
Henry will have a big play of two in this game. He’s a Pro Bowl talent for a reason. If the Ravens keep Henry under 100 yards on the ground, it’s hard to see Tennessee pulling off the upset. Their offense depends heavily on the run game. The Ravens are going to do everything they can to take away Tennessee’s preferred path to victory. There have been bad outings from the Ravens’ run defense but it hasn’t been a consistent problem.
Matt Judon has been a real difference maker this season. He has 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles on the season. Judon is helped by the fact that the Ravens are one of the most aggressive blitzing teams in the league. If Judon can win battles up front, and Don Martindale can dial up the right blitzes, bad things could be in store for the Titans.
Ryan Tannehill has had some of his worst games against the Ravens. While he’s given his career new life with the Titans, he still has a lot to prove in the postseason. The Ravens have a very impressive pass defense. The Ravens defense has also been very opportunistic. The Ravens plan is to make Tannehill have to have a career day for the Titans to have a chance. Tannehill may be having a hot season, though so is Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey. It’s going to be a tough game for the Titans against this defense, one way or another.
The reason the Ravens should feel confident in this game is that the Titans have a lot of tough things to do in this game. They have to run against a good defense ready to stop the run. They have to challenge a great secondary. They have to deal with a defense whose pass rush has heated up in the back half of the season. All of that being said, this is just half of the match up. The Ravens offense has a chance to put some points on the board, take the Titans away from their game plan and pile on the pressure for the Titans’ offense.