Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee Titans: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange
Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens take on the Tennessee Titans this weekend. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens take on the Tennessee Titans this weekend. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo


KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Nissan Stadium. TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Melanie Collins (field reporter).


SERIES HISTORY: 19th regular-season meeting. Series tied 9-9. The teams have split their last six games. However, Baltimore has won twice in Tennessee over that stretch. The Ravens won the most recent meeting, 21-7 in 2014. The Ravens also have beaten the Titans in two of their three playoff games.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Ravens' attack won't be dramatically different whether quarterback Joe Flacco (concussion) can play or backup Ryan Mallett gets the start. Both quarterbacks have similar playing styles.

However, the Ravens' receivers have struggled to make plays this season. As a result, Baltimore will rely heavily on running backs Alex Collins and Javorius "Buck" Allen to carry the offense, especially on the road.


Baltimore has the league's fifth-ranked rushing offense and Collins has 80 carries for 478 yards, which ranks ninth among all running backs.

Baltimore is wary of Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, who appears to be fully recovered from a hamstring injury. He should help improve Tennessee's 27th-ranked passing game. Mariota has completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 1,301 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions. He also has 23 carries for 124 yards and three scores.

Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith or Brandon Carr will focus on locking down Titans receivers Rishard Matthews and Eric Decker. Baltimore's run defense is coming off a solid performance against the Miami Dolphins, and that unit will make Tennessee running back DeMarco Murray fight for every yard.

The Titans have to run the football consistently and take care of it as the Ravens are up to their old tricks, leading the NFL in takeaways. The Titans have to figure out their red-zone problems, and are hopeful that a healthier Mariota can help fix an offense that ranked first in the league last year inside the opposing 20 (72 percent TD rate) but this year is an anemic 31st overall, converting for touchdowns just 41 percent of the time.


The Titans need their offensive line to step up and open rushing lanes for Murray and Derrick Henry to allow play-action to work.


--Titans LT Taylor Lewan vs. Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs. The Titans' best offensive lineman will have his work cut out for him against a veteran pass rusher like Suggs, who at age 35 is still effective and very crafty.

--Ravens RB Alex Collins vs. Tennessee LB Wesley Woodyard. Collins has been the best playmaker on offense since being signed off the practice squad in late September. Collins had his best game against the Dolphins, running for a career-high 113 yards on 18 carries. Woodyard, 31, has revitalized his career in Tennessee and is the team's top tackler. His goal will be to keep Collins under wraps and force the Ravens' struggling passing game to make plays.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Ravens DT Brandon Williams. The Ravens' run defense went from one of the strongest in the league to the worst when Williams missed four games with a foot injury. He returned in Week 7 against Minnesota and the team still allowed 169 rushing yards. However, with that game under his belt, Williams had more footing against Miami, which managed just 45 yards on the ground. Tennessee is tied with New England and Buffalo for the 10th-best running attack. Baltimore is ranked 31st against the run.


FAST FACTS: Ravens QB Joe Flacco passed for a TD in Week 8. ... RB Alex Collins had a career-high 143 scrimmage yards (113 rushing, 30 receiving) in Week 8. He leads the NFL with a 5.98 yards per carry. ... LB C.J. Mosley had a 63-yard interception return TD last week. He's the only player in the NFL with 65 tackles (68) and two interceptions (2) in 2017. Since entering league in 2014, he's one of three players (Thomas Davis and Harrison Smith) with seven sacks (7.5) and seven interceptions (7). ... Titans QB Marcus Mariota has passed for 1,956 yards (244.5 per game) with 14 TDs and two interceptions in his past eight games at home. He's one of six NFL QBs with 7,500 passing yards (7,545) and 700 rushing yards (725) since entering league in 2015. ... RB DeMarco Murray rushed for 93 yards in his only career meeting (2012 with Dallas). He has eight rushing TDs in the past 10 home games. Since 2013, he leads the NFL with 39 rushing TDs and ranks second with 5,327 yards. ... LB Avery Williamson led the team with 14 tackles in Week 7. He had two tackles for loss in the last meeting.


PREDICTION: Two flawed teams try to improve their playoff chances. By dint of playing in the weaker AFC South, the Titans are in better position, and their strengths seem to correlate well with the Ravens' weaknesses, which will make the difference in a low-scoring game.

OUR PICK: Titans, 19-13.

--Bucky Dent

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