Ravens-Titans: Three Key Matchups to Watch, Final Prediction

Baltimore is 3-point favorite in wild-card matchup
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AFC Wild Card:  No. 5 Baltimore Ravens (11-5) at No. 4 Tennessee Titans (11-5)

Here Are Three Key Matchups to Watch

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1. Titans running back Derrick Henry vs. Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell and nose tackle Brandon Williams

In Week 11, the Ravens were forced to play several young players against Titans running back Derrick Henry because both defensive end Calais Campbell and nose tackle Brandon Williams sidelined with injuries. Baltimore did an effective job containing Henry in the first half, holding him to 37 yards. The final two quarters were a different story. Henry finished with 133 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown run in overtime, which gave the Titans a spirited 30-24 victory. Campbell and Williams will be back in the lineup for the wild-card matchup and that could be the difference in this game, 

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2. Titans wide receivers A.J. Brown and Corey Davis 6vs. Ravens cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters

While Henry is the main cog in the Titans' attack, quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been efficient against Baltimore with play-action and avoiding crucial turnovers. He has thrown for 3,819 with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions on the season. Tannehill's favorite target is A.J. Brown who had a team-high 70 receptions for 1,075 yards with 11 touchdowns during the regular season. Brown had four receptions on seven targets for 62 yards in Week 11 against Baltimore. Fellow wide receiver Corey Davis finished with a game-high 113 yards on five receptions in that Week 11 game. Ravens quarterbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, both of whom battled injuries late in the season, need to be more effective in containing Brown and Davis or the Titans could open a big, early lead. 

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3. Titans pass defense vs. Lamar Jackson

The Ravens had the NFL's most prolific rushing attack for the second consecutive season. However, the key to beating the Titans might be through the air.  Tennessee's secondary has been vulnerable to big plays allowing 36 touchdown passes, ahead of only Detriot (38). Tennessee's front seven has just managed 19 sacks, which ranked 30th in the NFL. Jackson was 17 of 29 for 186 yards with a touchdown and interception in the Week 11 game. However, Jackson has played much better since that matchup. Over the Ravens' five-game winning streak to end the regular season, he threw for 809 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. Wide receiver Hollywood Brown has overcome some early-season struggles and has been more consistent over the past month. Brown had three targets and no receptions in the Week 11 game. Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews is fully healthy and could be an impact player. 

Prediction

The Titans have found a way to beat Baltimore in their past two matchups and have also mocked the Ravens players. For example, the Titans gathered on the Ravens logo at midfield before being confronted by Baltimore coach John Harbaugh prior to the Week 11 matchup. The Ravens are playing their best football of the season and Lamar Jackson is determined to win the first playoff game of his young career. This game will hinge on the Ravens containing Tennessee running back Derrick Henry. Baltimore signed Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe this offseason for this type of game. The move pays off.

Ravens 34, Titans 31