Wildcard Matchup Spotlight: BAL (-3) @ TEN
On Sunday, the Ravens will travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans in a playoff rematch from last year’s 28–12 Titans upset. It’s also a rematch from Week 11, when the Titans won 30–24 in overtime. Given this recent history, it may surprise you that I love the Ravens so much that it’s making me question my single-game limit on betting. This matchup is a complete mismatch, and the Ravens should win comfortably. You can currently get BAL -3 (-114), but I’d happily take BAL -3.5 (+104) as well.
Titans Offense: The Titans are a team that simply needs to establish the run with Derrick Henry. When they do, they are better in all facets. They are not built to mount comebacks where they are put in obvious passing situations, and they are not a great team when they get behind the chains. They are also heavily concentrated in their offensive passing output with A.J. Brown and Corey Davis. For this reason, the Titans achieve well above their talent when they control the offensive line of scrimmage and face weak corners, because they can do whatever they want to do. It’s no surprise that they dominated 3 of the last 4 weeks against Houston, Detroit, and Jacksonville. But outside of that, the Titans have been very mediocre this year. Even their wins have been deceptive, including a 7 point win over Nick Foles and the Chicago Bears, despite earning only 11 first downs in the entire game (to Chicago’s 22) and averaging just 4.1 yards per play (to Chicago’s 5.0). The big question is whether Baltimore’s defense is finally healthy. They’ve dealt with a lot this season, but I think they are. Their number one task will be to stop Henry before he picks up momentum, which they should be able to do because their corners are strong enough to handle Brown and Davis, allowing them to commit to Henry. If they do so, it’s going to be a long day for the Titans’ offense. I think Tannehill converts several third downs, but they are faced with simply too many third-and-longs to sustain their patented long drives.
Ravens Offense: The Ravens’ offense is similarly built. The running game flows through Lamar Jackson instead of Derrick Henry, but they are also a team that thrives when it controls the line of scrimmage. When the offense is clicking, Lamar looks like he can just stand back in the pocket and either throw to the open guy or take off. And now that they are blocking effectively once again and leaning on their two best running backs, Dobbins and Edwards, they have been on an absolute tear offensively. Enter the Titans’ defense, which has been simply terrible this year. I don’t see how the Titans can stop this offense on four consecutive downs each time they get the ball, because the Ravens smartly use analytics and don’t kick when they don’t have to. I’d be shocked if the Ravens don’t score 3 touchdowns in the first half. This will give the Ravens the lead, playing into their strengths and pushing into the Titans’ weaknesses.
Prediction: The Ravens score a touchdown on each of their first three drives, while the Titans are much less consistent, getting 3–10 points in that span. Once the Ravens have a lead, they keep the ball away from the Titans with long drives and continue to run up the score with touchdowns against a defense that simply can’t stop them. Henry gets taken out of the game when the Titans are trailing and they become one-dimensional. By the fourth quarter, Lamar takes a happy seat on the bench after finally securing his first career playoff win. Ravens roll, 37–16.
BAL -3 (-114) for 5 units.