Baltimore Ravens vs. Titans: Everything that is different this time
The Baltimore Ravens have another playoff battle with the Tennessee Titans. What is different from the last two times these teams played?
The Baltimore Ravens were red hot after the 2019 NFL regular season. That being said, John Harbaugh’s decision to rest starters heading into a bye cooled off the team’s magic momentum completely. A new postseason brings us the same matchup the Ravens had last time, a battle with the Tennessee Titans.
This year though, the Ravens didn’t get to rest their starters. They had to beat the Cincinnati Bengals to get into the postseason. This time the Ravens are going into the playoffs red hot with no disruption to their schedule. This time they travel to Tennessee.
Last year the Ravens had all the pressure in the world, and the Titans really had nothing to lose. The Ravens were the number one seed and they just had the best regular-season record in franchise history. This year the Titans are the division champions, the Ravens are the wild card team and, it’s a normal afternoon kickoff.
Last year the Ravens got tight and panicked. It’s well documented and it is what it is. This year the Ravens don’t have the most excited crowd M&T Bank Stadium has ever seen. Last year’s game was built up as a special moment in team history, yet it was a spectacle that turned into a disaster.
This year, the Ravens don’t risk tarnishing one of the best seasons any team has ever had. The expectations are still there, however they feel incredibly different. That matters heading into this game. Baltimore understands what’s on the line but they can prepare for this game much more like it’s just another important game. They’re on a mission but they’re just playing a game in Nashville.
The truth is that Tennessee hasn’t played the Ravens at their best in their last two meetings. In the postseason game, Baltimore let the pressure get to them. In the regular season battle, they played mistake-riddled football were shorthanded on the defensive line, and were in the middle of a span where they lost four out of five games.
The Ravens weren’t right and against Derrick Henry and company they didn’t have Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams. The regular season bout with Tennessee has important lessons yet this team is in a much different state. Remember the 2012 Ravens lost three straight games, got demolished by the Denver Broncos, and still found a way to make the Mile High Miracle happen.
Lamar Jackson has gotten hot since the regular-season meeting as well. As the Monday Night Football commentators called him in his season-saving heroics vs. the Browns, Jackson is “Superman without the cape.”
Jackson had a passer rating of 74.8 in the regular season battle with Tennessee. Since then he has four passer ratings over 100 and one just above 90. The last time he played the Titans he had 51 yards rushing. Since then Jackson has had at least 80 yards in four out of five games. Jackson figured some things out and his play has picked up. He’s more dangerous than he was in the middle of the season.
The Ravens demolished the Cincinnati Bengals in the regular season finale. They took care of the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Dallas Cowboys without the games ever being in real jeopardy. The offense has been much smoother. The defense is feeling it. In the one battle they had with a playoff contender, they won a thriller against the Cleveland Browns. This team has been tested and they passed.
While the level of competition hasn’t been stellar for most of the Ravens’ games since they played Tennessee the team is hardly recognizable from that November contest. The Ravens took the Titans to overtime in a game where they didn’t play close to their best football. If the Ravens play as they have in the last five weeks they’ll win this game.
The Bottom Line:
The Ravens had the pressure in the playoffs last year. This season’s adversity has changed a lot for the team. The situation is completely different and while the stakes are still high, it is a more favorable situation in terms of the way this team is comfortable operating.
This is a different matchup. Things change even over the course of less than half a season. Things change. If the Titans think this is the same situation and feel too much confidence, the Ravens could shock them.