The Baltimore Ravens get a chance at redemption when they visit the Tennessee Titans for an AFC Wild Card game on Sunday. The contest is a rematch from last season’s divisional round when the Titans went into Baltimore and snuffed out the top-seed Ravens making MVP Lamar Jackson look mortal. Baltimore enters this game on a roll having won five straight just to qualify for the postseason. They’ve been in playoff mode for the last month after a three-game losing streak put their hopes in jeopardy. Bookmaker.eu offers a generous welcome bonus (max bonus $1600).
Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans
Date and Time: Sunday, January 10, 2021, 1:05 p.m. ET
Location: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
NFL Odds: Ravens -3, O/U 54.5
Ravens at Titans TV Coverage: ABC/ESPN
The Ravens are on fire entering the postseason winning their last five games while going 6-0 ATS in their last six. The offense has looked sharp, particularly the run game which produced over 400 yards in a season-ending 38-3 win over Cincinnati that clinched a third-straight playoff berth. As one of if not the hottest team in the league, the Ravens were positioned as a 3.5-point favorite on the opening line against the AFC North champs. That number has been wagered down slightly to -3. The Ravens closed as the favorite in the last two meetings losing both outright. They were laying 10-points in last year’s playoff matchup falling 28-12. The teams met in Week 11 with Tennessee prevailing 30-24 in overtime as a 6-point dog. The Titans ended the season at 11-5 SU and 7-9 ATS. They cashed the OVER in their last three games and in seven of their last eight.
Maybe it’s a good thing the Ravens are on the road for this one since they didn’t fare well at home in the last two meetings. Since a bout with COVID in early December the Ravens have been at the top of their game looking like the NFL’s scoring leader from a year ago. That has a lot to do with Lamar Jackson and a punishing ground game. They averaged 37.2 points over the final five games with Jackson throwing 11 touchdown passes and running for 430 yards. But until Jackson changes the narrative there will be questions about his playoff past.
Baltimore lost its first playoff game to the Chargers two years ago and were upset by the Titans in the divisional round last year. Jackson is well aware of his past failures that produced more turnovers than touchdowns. And Jackson believes he’ll be ready on Sunday because the Ravens have been in playoff mode for the last five weeks. They needed to win out following a loss to Pittsburgh in Week 12 that had them at 6-5. And they did just that in typical Ravens fashion.
The Ravens amassed a team record 404 rushing yards against Cincinnati with Jackson going for 97 yards. J.K. Dobbins led the way with 160 yards and the Ravens led the league for a second straight season averaging 191.9 rushing yards. Defensively the Ravens allowed just 18.9 points per game and finished eighth against the run. The group will have to stop rushing leader Derrick Henry, who had 133 yards in the regular season meeting and totaled 195 rushing yards in last year’s playoff upset.
You might find it hard to believe, but Tennessee had a top-5 offense this season. Led by Henry, who became only the eighth player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season, the Titans had the second-best ground game and the third-best total offense. They also averaged 30.7 points to place fourth. And they needed all that production to prop up a defense that wasn’t very good.
Using Henry to keep the defense off the field is a wise strategy. Henry was the definition of a workhorse back leading the NFL in rush attempts, yards per game and rushing touchdowns, while placing fourth among running backs in yards per attempt. His success makes Ryan Tannehill better and fuels the offense. Tannehill threw for over 3,800 yards with 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Roger Saffold was injured in last week’s game and his absence leaves a void on the line that could prove costly.
The Titans played some high scoring games this season allowing the over to go 12-3-1. The key for them is to stop the run and force Jackson to throw the football. That plan came to fruition last postseason and they allowed just 129 rushing yards in the regular season meeting. However, the Titans ranked 28th in total defense and surrendered 27.4 points per game, which is worrisome against the red hot Ravens offense.
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Jackson and the Ravens know what’s at stake. Past playoff failures will define the reigning MVP until he changes the narrative. And he’s hell bent on doing that. It takes an army, though, and having Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams on the line to stop Henry should make a big difference. Those two missed the earlier meeting when Henry outrushed the Ravens and walked the game off with an OT touchdown.
NFL Score Prediction: Baltimore 33, Tennessee 26
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– Phil Simon, Gambling911.com