Ravens vs. Titans: NFL Wild Card odds, preview, and pick
Playoff football is here ladies and gents, and if you're not hyped then you’re in the wrong place. 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens will travel to Tennessee to face a Titans team with a scary array of offensive weapons.
These are the games we live for.
Sun, January 10 2021, 6:05 PM
The Ravens have opened as favorites after finishing the season 11-5 in the AFC North. This game has the highest projected total of any game on the weekend slate, set at 54.5.
The Ravens are past their midseason meltdown
Everything was looking good in Baltimore as the Ravens headed into their Week 6 bye at 5-1, with their sole defeat coming at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs. However, a Lamar Jackson slump and a COVID-19 outbreak caused the club to go 1-4. Along the way, they lost one-score games to the Steelers (twice), Patriots, and the Titans.
Baltimore eventually got back on track, though, as the Ravens finished the season 5-0 with big wins over the Jaguars, Giants, and Bengals.
The Ravens' strength is undoubtably on the ground, where they average 192 yards per game rushing. That's a tally no other team can match.
Baltimore's rushing prowess is partially down to Jackson, who posted a 1,000+ yard season once again, but is also thanks to a combination of J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, who have both racked up more than 720 yards each.
A tale of two defenses
And while the Ravens’ ground game is strong, their defense may be even better. Baltimore gave up an average of just 18.9 points a game to the opposition this season, the second-best mark in the NFL. That included keeping the Browns, Bengals (twice), Colts, Steelers, Jaguars and Giants to 14 points or fewer.
Compare that to a Titans' team that gave up more than 27 points per game to the opposition, and allowed a staggering 398 yards per game.
Fortunately, the Titans were far better on offense in 2020. Tennessee ranked second in the league for rushing yards per game (168) and averaged 30 points per game, helping them go 11-5. That includes five games where they scored 40 points or more.
Can anyone stop Derrick Henry?
It’s incredible that we’ve made it this far into the column without talking about Derrick Henry, since he destroyed everything in his path this year. The rugged running back racked up 2,027 yards this season, which is almost 500 more than the next leading RB, Dalvin Cook. Henry averaged 127 yards per game and found the end zone 15 times.
And the Titans can mix it up. Ryan Tannehill has been a top five QB in the league this year, and with AJ Brown, Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith all to aim for, Tannehill has a plethora of supremely talented options at his disposal. Those three players combined to haul in 176 passes this year for 2,500 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Recent history is also on the side of the Titans. They won in overtime in November (courtesy of yet another Derrick Henry TD) and in last season’s AFC Divisional Playoff game, the Titans came out on top 28-12 as Henry ran for almost 200 yards and even threw a touchdown pass. "The Little Tractor" can do it all.
Expect a high-scoring shootout
Baltimore's defense is far superior, but can the Ravens legitimately stop the range of Tennessee weapons? Henry racked up 133 yards against the Ravens in November, while Corey Davis helped himself to 113 yards through the air. The Titans have far more offensive options and an incredibly talented attacking unit.
Their defense isn’t stopping anything (they just gave up 38 points to a Texans team with nothing to play for) so expect Lamar Jackson, Dobbins, and the "Gus Bus" to have a field day on the ground after racking up more than 400 yards rushing against the Bengals.
Will the Ravens cover the spread against the Titans?
With that in mind, give me the Over on the 54.5 points line as I can see a high-scoring shootout, and I’m taking the Titans +3.5 as I expect Derrick Henry will continue to dominate.
Score prediction: Titans 31, Ravens 28