|-5 BAL (-105) @ pinnacle|
I took Baltimore in a ton of futures prior to the start of last year as I believed they were a sleeper team that everyone was ignoring. Over 8 wins, to win the division, and to win the AFC at +1900. I also took them as my best play of the season against the Patriots midway through the year as well. I followed this team very closely, as they went on to finish 14-2 and earn a top seed in the AFC. Given that, I believe this weekend is their best spot of the season – so I’ll be making a big play on them to win and cover against the Titans. Let’s discuss.
After getting the #1 seed and having two weeks to prepare for their first playoff game a season ago, the Titans came in and shocked the world winning 28-12 as 10 point underdogs. The biggest reason why the Titans won that game was Derrick Henry. Henry ran for 195 yards in the game even when everyone knew he was getting the ball, they fed him all game long and he just couldn’t be stopped. 30 rushes for 195 yards. The Ravens had an elite team last year, but their one weakness was rush defense and it came back to haunt them in a big way in the playoffs. Because of this, Harbaugh spent the off-season with a singular focus to improve their 21rst ranked rush defense so that when they get back to the playoffs this year, they would be able to stop the run.
Once the off-season came, Baltimore made a huge move and signed Calais Campbell to a $25 million deal, with a $10 million sign-on bonus. Calais Campbell was given PFF’s run defender award of the year in 2019, so it’s no surprise that Harbaugh did everything he could to get him. Baltimore also went and signed Derek Wolfe and Yannick Ngakoue to bolster their rush defense even further. Through 9 games, the Ravens rush defense that was 21rst a season ago, is now #1 in the NFL. Just this alone would make things a lot harder for the Titans who was able to run up and down on the Ravens in the playoffs a season ago, however there are impactful changes on the Titans side as well.
The other reason the Titans rushing attack was so effective in that game last year was that the Titans had the 4th best run blocking offensive line in the league a season ago. That 4th best offensive line however, was due mostly in part to Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin - the two highest graded offensive lineman on the team. However, Lewan is now out with a torn ACL, while Conklin is now a member of the Cleveland Browns.
This is a massive match-up edge for the Ravens who have a huge score to settle to redeem themselves from that early playoff exit a season ago. The Ravens were AFC favorites, 10 point favorites against the Titans, had SB aspirations, and the Titans came in and took their dream away. This time around, the Titans will be without their two best offensive lineman from a season ago, while the Ravens have improved their rush defense from #21 to #1. Derrick Henry will not be running wild in this game like last time, which will put the game in Tannehill’s hands against Jimmy Smith, Marcus Peters, and Marlon Humphrey.
The one weakness on the Ravens this year is their offensive line as they have significant injuries there as well, however that weakness won’t be put to the test against a Titans team who has the 29th worst defensive line in football.
I love Baltimore this weekend, I’ve waited for this game for a few weeks, but the Ravens have waited for this game all season. I expect them to show up big in this game.
Note, Campbell might be out but Titans have bigger injury concerns on their own
Not spotted on practice field on Friday for Titans: WR Adam Humphries CB Adoree’ Jackson C Ben Jones G Rodger Saffold TE MyCole Pruitt DL Larrell Murchison OLB Jadeveon Clowney DB Kareem Orr