We’re moving along to divisional weekend, as the Tennessee Titans travel to Baltimore for a clash with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
For starters, the Titans don’t make appearances this late into the season as a football team all that often.
Putting aside the culture of winning that dominated the city of Nashville during the early 2000s, the Titans have been downright invisible in the divisional round, let alone the playoffs.
After sinking into an organizational image full of disappointment and dysfunction, the Titans are back in the divisional round for only the 2nd time this decade, and only the 3rd time since 2008.
But past failures make for success down the road.
With the investment into a new culture of unselfish football, the Titans are getting back to the roots of their success sustained during their early years of existence as a franchise in Nashville.
What a better way to ring in a new culture of winning, than against an old AFC Central foe that’s given the Titans many playoff fits over the years.
Let’s talk about it.
1. Without Jayon Brown, Things Get Even Tougher For the Titans’ Defense
The Titans will be without one of their top linebackers on Saturday night, as Jayon Brown has continued to nurse a shoulder injury he sustained against New England.
I won’t ease up here, Jayon Brown’s absence is a massive loss for the Titans’ defense.
His mobility and knowledge at the 2nd line of defense would only help the Titans in their mission of slowing down Lamar Jackson.
Also knowing the Ravens’ usage of multiple tight ends, Brown’s presence would go a long way in combating the dangerous Mark Williams.
The work defensively was already difficult enough with Brown in the lineup, now with Brown out, rookie David Long Jr. and veteran Wesley Woodyard will be tasked of slowing down the most explosive rushing offense in the league.
2. Derrick Henry Tasked With Carrying Ground Game Once Again
The 182 yards Derrick Henry put up last weekend might’ve been courtesy of some Bill Belichick scheming, but that doesn’t take away how dominating Henry’s performance was.
Henry’s physical running style was the only consistent form of offense the Titans had against the Patriots, heck, you can even say Derrick Henry WAS the Titans’ offense that night.
Now, he’s been given the duty of doing it again, this time against a Ravens defensive front that’s been very vocal about their will to stop Henry in his tracks.
Henry got most of his success against the Patriots by running behind his big offensive line inside.
The Titans will have a hard time following that same formula this weekend, as the Ravens rank 4th in rush yards allowed, and won’t hesitate in sending a plethora of blitzes to combat the Titans’ power run game.
A silver lining in these numbers come with the Ravens’ blitzing potentially backfiring in the run game, and their efficiency defending the run being pretty average.
19th in the league in fact.
It won’t be easy, but getting Henry in space 1v1 against the poor tackling DB’s Baltimore has should be top pritority.
Since more often than not, Henry will win those matchups and will chug out big gain after big gain, and maybe even break out the game breaking run we’ve all gotten used to watching.
3. Pretty Obvious, But The Titans’ Passing Offense Has to Be Able to Keep Up On The Scoreboard
Let’s say…the Titans’ defense just flat out can’t stop Lamar Jackson, and Derrick Henry doesn’t find the same running room he had against New England, then where do you turn?
Oh no one, just Ryan Tannehill, who anchored one of the league’s most explosive passing offenses after week 6.
In all seriousness, 75 yards passing isn’t going to cut it against the Ravens.
Not when Lamar Jackson and that Ravens offense gets going. When they get going, they have the ability to put up points in BUNCHES, which is rare considering the philosophy the Ravens carry on offense.
Bottom line, this passing game has to be MUCH better if they want any shot of pulling off the upset.
Whether that means getting your quarterback in a rhythm early with some short throws, or even looking farther on the playsheet and cooking up something different, the offense has to be better in the passing game.
You can’t have the duo of Corey Davis and AJ Brown go ghost again, nor Jonnu Smith, there has to be some sort of volume.
It won’t be easy though, as the Ravens boast one of the best passing defenses in all of football, allowing the 6th least passing yards per game.
Even their pass defense efficiency sits in the top 5.
*Reference photo above*
If this passing game can’t find some magic, then the Titans will be flying back to Nashville with a loss.
Thank you, captain obvious.
Flip the page for my prediction of the game.