BALTIMORE — The Ravens are looking to extend the best season in franchise history in an AFC divisional playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium.
Here are three keys to victory for Baltimore:
1. Shut down Tennessee running back Derrick Henry
Henry led the NFL with 1,540 yards rushing in the regular season. He was also the difference in Tennessee's 20-13 victory over the Patriots in the wild-card round, running for 182 yards on 34 carries with a touchdown.
The Ravens will stack the line and try to keep 6-foot-3, 240-pound Henry bottled up before he can get to the second level and become increasingly difficult to bring down. Ravens' defensive tackles Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce and Domata Peko need to have dominant games. If Henry does break a couple of tackles, the onus will be on the Ravens' defensive back to make tackles.
Baltimore was ranked fifth against the run in the regular season and allowed 93.4 yards per game.
In two career games against Baltimore, Henry has gone 1-1 and run for 47 yards on 15 carries (3.13 y.p.c) with a touchdown. However, he is a much better runner this season.
2. Raven Need to Start Fast and Avoid Turnovers
The Ravens had an extra week of rest and prepare for the Titans as the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. The players scoffed at the notion there might be some rust from the layoff.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson has done a solid job setting the early tone and the Ravens led the NFL with first quarter points per game. Jackson has also done a solid job protecting the football and threw for 36 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Overall, Baltimore had a +10 turnover ratio, which ranked sixth among all teams. The Ravens lost seven fumbles this season.
If the Ravens can open a big lead, the pressure will be on Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill to win the game against Baltimore's lockdown secondary. The Titans suffered a blow when linebacker Jayon Brown was ruled out with a shoulder injury.
3. Makes Plays Deep Downfield
The Titans need to contain the Ravens' record-setting ground attack to put themselves in position to pull off the upset. If Tennessee stacks the box, Jackson will need to make plays downfield to loosen the pressure.
Receiver Marquise Brown is Jackson's favorite deep threat, and he has the ability to get behind the Titans' defense. Tight end Mark Andrews has the ability to get open in the middle of the field and pick up considerable yards after making a reception. Look for Jackson to make plays through the air to keep Tennessee off-balance. The Titans were ranked 24th against the pass, allowing 255 yards per game.
Jackson has to be wary of Titans safety Kevin Byard (five interceptions) and cornerback Logan Ryan (four interceptions), both of whom can change the momentum of the game.