The first game of the Sunday slate is arguably the most exciting and competitive matchup of Wild Card weekend. The Baltimore Ravens will be traveling to take on the Tennessee Titans in a rematch of last year’s divisional round matchup (1.05pm ET Sunday; TV: Live on ABC and ESPN). It is only one of two games this weekend that is less than a four-point spread.
The Ravens are one of the hottest teams in football right now. They finished the season winning and covering five straight games. Their offense seemed to find something and averaged 37.2 points per game during this stretch. Quarterback Lamar Jackson found his 2019 MVP season form and looked like the best player in football once again. He had 11 touchdown passes, four rushing touchdowns and only three interceptions in these five games. This is the last team that anyone wants to face in the playoffs.
The Titans have arguably the most dominant player on the field in Derrick Henry. The fifth-year running back had career highs in carries (378), rushing yards (2,027), and rushing touchdowns (17). He averaged an incredible 126.7 rushing yards per game and is only the eighth player in NFL history to have over 2,000 yards on the ground in a season. The Ravens will need to attempt to slow Henry down if they want to be able to win this game and avenge last year’s disappointing loss.
The Ravens ranked 8th in the NFL in average rushing yards allowed per game (108.8). In their last three games they only allowed 87.7 yards per game on the ground, which was fifth best in the league during that stretch. The Titans will need to control the game on the ground and have a dominant performance from Henry if they want to keep this game competitive.
The Ravens passing defense is even stronger than their rushing defense. Expect them to sell out against the run and make Ryan Tannehill and the passing attack beat them through the air. The Ravens rank 6th in the league in average passing yards allowed per game (221.0). They were even stronger over their last three games and they only allowed 156.0 yards per game through the air.
The Titans’ defense leaves much to be desired. They will need to step up substantially if they want to have a chance on Sunday. I’m not sure the Titans will be able to win in a shootout. The Titans have one of the weaker pass defenses in the league, which could be exploited by the Ravens despite the lackluster play of Lamar Jackson at times.
Jackson hasn’t been great on the year, but as of late he has elevated the passing attack to be a threat to the Titans. The Titans rank 29th in the NFL in average passing yards per game (277.4) and were even worse towards the end of the season. In their last three games they allowed 294.0 passing yards per game. They rank 31st in passing touchdowns allowed per game (2.2) and should allow Jackson to thrive through the air. Jackson threw for two touchdowns or more in nine of his 15 starts in the regular season. I think coach Harbaugh will let Jackson loose and will want to show that he can be explosive not only on the ground but through the air.
The Titans’ rushing defense is slightly more formidable, but it can still be exploited. They allowed 120.8 yards per game on the ground, which was good for 19th in the NFL. The Ravens have the most explosive running attacks in the NFL and will certainly look to establish it on Sunday. They rank 1st in average rushing yards per game (191.0) and rely heavily on the legs of Jackson. In the regular season he gained 1,005 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. He led the team in rushing yards and was second in rushing touchdowns. Rookie running back J.K. Dobbins helped contribute with 805 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
Our Preview’s Ravens vs Titans Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
I am going to be rolling with the Ravens as slight road favorites. They are currently as low as -3 points on the spread in some spots. I don’t think the Titans’ defense will be able to stop the Ravens enough to keep this within the number. The Ravens will look to dominate the game on the ground, which should open up some opportunities through the air with the play-action game.
Expect Lamar Jackson to have success with both his legs and arm on a weak defense. One trend that points to the Ravens is the difficulty home teams have had in the Wild Card round. Since 2013 home teams have gone 7-14-1 against the spread and are 12-11 straight up.
I think the over is also worth a look. Both offenses have been able to score for much of the season. Also, Jerome Boger will be the head ref for this game. Since 2010 games he has officiated are 103-60 to the over. In 2020 alone his games have gone over the total 12 out of 15 times. In the regular season the Titans ranked 4th in average points per game (30.7) and the Ravens ranked 7th (29.2). So to summarize our Baltimore Ravens vs Tennessee Titans Predictions for this NFL Wild Card playoff game: