NASHVILLE — The Ravens and Titans play a key Week 11 matchup that will have playoff implications in the AFC.
Both Baltimore and Tennessee are among a logjam of teams sitting at 6-3.
David Boclair, publisher of AllTitans, an SI team channel, answered five questions presented by RavenCountry.
1. How confident are the Titans heading into Baltimore after their dominant performance in the divisional round of the playoffs last season?
The Titans are confident in that they feel they know they understand how to beat the Ravens. Namely they to get an early lead and to make stops at key times, such as their two fourth-and-ones in January. However, they have no delusions about whether they can shut down Lamar Jackson or that they can keep the Ravens’ defense from creating turnovers. Players have expressed great admiration – even a bit of awe – on both fronts. They know Lamar is going to be Lamar. They know the defense is going to be aggressive and physical. For Tennessee, it is all about controlling the tempo and momentum of this contest.
2. Derrick Henry had 30 carries in that game. Do you expect him to have a similar workload?
If they get a lead, absolutely. In their six victories this season, Henry has averaged 24 carries, and he started with 31 rushes against Denver in Week 1. In their three losses, he has averaged 19 carries and has not run it more than 20 times. More so than at any time during his NFL career, Henry is central to what the Titans do on offense, and in a game this important they will lean heavily on him in hopes of a repeat performance.
3. Lamar Jackson had 508 yards of total offense against Tennessee last season. What's going to be the key to slowing him down?
Coach Mike Vrabel talked to the defense about the need to just get Jackson on the ground. He does not want players to go for a big hit or to get too aggressive in their pursuit, particularly out of frustration. Whether he has it on a designed run or in the pocket, Jackson is going to make people miss. The Titans know that. Their goal is just to get in his way, get a hand on him and get him stopped before he breaks a big run or breaks down the pass defense and finds an open receiver.
4. How much has play-action helped Ryan Tannehill run the offense this year?
Pretty much every team the Titans have faced this year has talked about what an issue the play-action game is – before and after the contest. Roughly one-third of Tannehill’s passes this year have come off play-action. One out of every seven completions has been for a touchdown, as opposed to one out of every 10 completions when it has not been play-action. His average yards-per-attempt with play-action is 9.8. For other pass plays it is 6.4. Even when he has been forced to run, he has been better in play-action (6.7 yards per carry) than not (3.6 yards per carry).
5. What is your prediction for this game?
Both teams are coming off disappointing performances, so I expect each to play much better in this one. Theoretically, the Titans have an advantage because their last game was on Thursday night and they have had extra time to rest. However, based on this week’s injury report even the couple extra days was not enough time. Their offensive line is particularly banged up. The absence of fans will limit the Ravens’ ability to really create and ride momentum, but I still think this will be their day. I’ll say: Baltimore 30, Tennessee 20.