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Friday, September 16, 2011

Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee Titans Preview:


The Tennessee Titans are coming off of one more disappointing season opener in recent memory. This was supposed to be the beginning of a new era as a plethora of new faces has littered the Titans team this year. All the way up from new head coach Mike Munchak down to new QBs Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker, there was a new outlook in the air for this team. They even got Pro Bowl running back Chris Johnson back into the fray just in time for the first game of the season. The expectations were even higher against a Jacksonville team that just cut their starting QB David Garrard. You would think that with all the circumstances and excitement surrounding Tennessee that the Titans would come out on top of their game to prove their merit, however the exact opposite happened.

The Titans came out flat and put on a less then desirable performance. Jacksonville just destroyed Tennessee at the line of scrimmage and dictated their run game on the defense. Maurice Drew-Jones had 24 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown and really wore down the defense. The Titans finally woke up in the 3rd quarter to make it a game and eventually had a chance to win but an errant throw by the recently acquired Matt Hasselbeck intended for Kenny Britt was intercepted and the Titans saw their chances of winning the season opener come to an end.

Now the Titans welcome the bullies of Baltimore to town as they are fresh off their annihilation of the Super Bowl runner up Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens just dominated their arch rival Steelers in every conceivable way. The 35-7 victory was maybe the most unexpected outcome of the first week as most who know football know that a Ravens-Steelers game is usually a grind it out low scoring affair. The Ravens forced a team record seven turnovers including 3 interceptions from usually clutch QB Ben Roethlisberger. Baltimore more than controlled the line play in the game as they ran for 170 yards (Ray Rice 19 carries 107 yards 1 TD) and held the reliable Pittsburgh run game to just 66 yards on the ground. The Ravens just wreaked havoc all over the field with their play-makers as Terrell Suggs had three sacks, Ed Reed had two interceptions, Ray Lewis had one pick and a forced fumble and Haloti Ngata’s bruising hit on Rashard Mendenhall forced another fumble.

The Titans will definitely have their hands full with this Ravens team there is not doubt about that. Chris Johnson only ran for 24 yards on 9 carries as he looks to get back into the game flow after his extended contract dispute. There is also that little rivalry thing that Tennessee and Baltimore games carry. The all-time series record is tied 8-8. These two teams last faced each other in the 2009 playoffs as the Ravens defeated the Titans 13-10 in the divisional round. “It really doesn't have any carryover. That was two years ago. I'm just trying to win a game.” Said Titans running back Chris Johnson who knows that the Ravens came at him from every direction that game. Some even say that the Ravens tried to hurt him in the playoff game that year. If they were trying to harm him, then they were successful as Johnson was forced to leave the game after sustaining an ankle injury.

Even with all that has been said, the Titans have a chance to win this game. Let’s take a look at three key factors in the game.

1. Can the Titans match the Ravens physicality? That usually is the question any team faces when they take on the Ravens. Pittsburgh, in many people’s opinion are crowned the most physical team in the league and we saw what the Baltimore did to them. The Ravens defense is just nasty and they will torment you if you allow them to. Ray Lewis is the unquestioned leader of the group but when you have Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata, you have a cast of brutes willing and ready to take out the Titans. Tennessee has to match their intensity in order to compete in this one. Rather it be a bruising run or a beastly block, the Titans have to show they are not intimidated by Baltimore. They always say to beat the bully you have to become the bully and we will find out what the Titans are in this game.

2. Will the real Chris Johnson stand up: He is what they call their home-run hitter,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. “He is their offense, he’s their heartbeat. And if you look at what they did last weekend … you’ve got to know that he’s definitely going to touch the football a lot this week. And we’re prepared for it. CJ2k didn’t get off to best start last week which is what I expected after the long endearing contract dispute. You can run all the drills you want to in the gym or even out of the field, but there is no way you are simulating game speed and hits without actually being at practice. Johnson also is the highest paid running back in the league now so he is placed on a pedestal to be the ultimate game changer for an otherwise vanilla offensive group. The Titans need Johnson to be everything in the offense, especially against such a talented defense. The Ravens game plan will center on stopping him anyway they can. Johnson has to be up to the task and accept that the Ravens will more than likely take some cheap shots at him when they can. He will be the key player for the Titans but that is no surprise. Is Johnson up to the task? Only time will tell.

3. Are the Titans able to stop the Ravens ground game? Tennessee was gashed repeatedly by Jacksonville on the ground last week. They are in for the same type of game against Baltimore. The Titans simply can’t allow they Ravens run game to get going because if they do it will lead to play-action play calling for Joe Flacco who will carve up the secondary in that case. The defensive front seven has to show up and make key stops when needed. That means guys like Dave Ball, William Hayes, Shaun Smith, Akeem Ayers, Barrett Rudd, and Will Witherspoon are on notice. The Titans received some good news as well that defensive linemen Derrick Morgan and William Hayes should be able to play. If they are lacking motivation all they have to do is look at last week’s game film. This in my opinion is the most important factor in the entire game. Make Joe Flacco beat you with his arm because if you allow the Ravens to bulldoze the defense then Baltimore will chew you up and spit you out. The Titans defense has heard all off-season and even more after the Jacksonville game that they are the weak link to this team. It’s time for them to rise up and show what they are made of because they will surely tested by this Ravens team.


RAVENS: Since ’10, club has 9-2 record when scoring 20+ points…Ravens have won 6 of past 7 vs. AFC…QB JOE FLACCO passed for 3 TDs for 6th time of career last week & Ravens are 5-1 in such games. Ravens are 18-2 (.900) when Flacco has 100+ passer rating…RB RAY RICE posted 8th career 100-yard rush game last week (107). For career, Rice averages 102.0 scrimmage yards per game (4,693 in 46 games)…RB RICKY WILLIAMS averaged 5.3 yards per carry in Bal. debut last week (12 att., 63 yards)…WR ANQUAN BOLDIN (911) needs 89 receiving yards to reach 1,000 career with Bal. WR LEE EVANS (5,934) needs 66 rec. yards for 6,000 career…TE ED DICKSON had career-best in catches (5) & rec. yards (59) last week…Ravens registered 7 turnovers vs. Steelers (4 FF, 3 INTs)…Ravens are 8-0 under JOHN HARBAUGH when posting 3+ INTs in game…S ED REED (1,463) needs 20 INT return yards to surpass HOFer ROD WOODSON (1,483) for most all-time. Now has 12 games with at least 2 INTs, most by any player who began career in Super Bowl era…LB TERRELL SUGGS (71.5) tied career-high with 3 sacks last week & surpassed PETER BOULWARE (70) for most sacks in Ravens history…TITANS: QB MATT HASSELBECK (29,842) needs 158 passing yards to reach 30,000 career. In 2 career games vs. Ravens, Hasselbeck has completed 41 of 68 passes (60.3 pct.) for 532 yards w/ 7 TDs vs. 2 INTs & 107.0 passer rating…RB CHRIS JOHNSON averages 92.1 rush yards per game in Sept., which is 5th-highest rushing-yards-per-game average in month in NFL history (min. 10 games). Johnson averages 103 rush yards per game at LP Field (2,472 total in 24 games)…WR KENNY BRITT posted 5th 100-yard receiving game last week with 136 yards. Tied career long with 80-yard TD rec. last week. WR NATE WASHINGTON (199) needs 1 catch to reach 200 career…LB BARRETT RUUD led team with 12 tackles in Titans debut…CB JASON MC COURTY posted 1st career sack last week...S MICHAEL GRIFFIN had INT in last meeting vs. Ravens

1 comment:

  1. How 'bout those Titans? Surprise of the week!