Two AFC teams with playoff aspirations clash this week as the Baltimore Ravens play host to the Tennessee Titans in a rematch of last year’s divisional round playoff game. At home, the Ravens are listed as 6.5-point favorites with an over/under of 49 points.
The 2020 season isn’t coming as easy to the Ravens as the 2019 season did. Baltimore has lost two of its last three games, including a rain-soaked loss to the Patriots on Sunday night. Those losses have pushed the Ravens to 6-3, three games behind Pittsburgh in the AFC North.
As a result, the Ravens are likely relying on a Wild Card spot. However, there are five AFC teams that are 6-3 and not leading their division, meaning Baltimore still has a lot of work to do to lock up a playoff spot.
Of course, the Titans are one of those 6-3 teams that could be fighting for a Wild Card spot in December. Following a 5-0 start, Tennessee has lost three of four games after getting doubled up by the Colts last Thursday.
Technically, the Titans are tied with the Colts atop the AFC South. However, after this week’s trip to Baltimore, the Titans travel to Indianapolis for a rematch with the Colts, so their season could be decided in the next two weeks.
After he looked like a potential MVP candidate during Tennessee’s 5-0 start, Ryan Tannehill has fallen back down to earth over the last month. He’s barely completed over 50% of his passes over the last two weeks while throwing for a meager 305 yards.
The silver lining is that Tannehill isn’t turning it over, so he’s still a solid game manager. But he’s not creating enough big plays, even with a receiver like A.J. Brown and opposing defenses keeping a close eye on Derrick Henry.
After last year’s playoff loss, it’s a safe bet that the Baltimore defense will be focused on slowing down Henry. The Ravens have struggled to stop the run in recent weeks. That was true even last week when they knew that New England didn’t pose a serious threat through the air.
If they can’t get things cleaned up, Henry is likely to eat them alive while helping open up the play-action game for Tannehill.
It’s clear that this is not the same Baltimore offense that lit up the league a year ago. Lamar Jackson remains as dangerous as ever, but the help around him leaves something to be desired.
Mark Ingram’s return from injury made little impact last week, while leading receiver Marquise Brown has had three poor performances in a row. The Ravens are becoming overly dependent on Jackson, making it a little easier for teams to gameplan against them.
Of course, the Tennessee defense has been vulnerable against good quarterbacks this season. Even mediocre quarterbacks have had success against the Titans, who have given up at least 30 points in five of their nine games.
Tennessee has lacked a consistent pass rush all season, which has hindered its efforts despite a solid run defense and a talented secondary.
Big, Bad Birds
While the Ravens are coming off a bad game, the Titans have systematic issues that have led to a bad month. That makes Baltimore the more likely team to bounce back this week, especially since they have the reigning MVP.
Bet on the Ravens to win and cover the 6.5-point spread against the Titans.
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