Eisenberg: 50 Words or Less


Various thoughts on various things, all in 50 words or less:

I'm hearing the Ravens need to win Sunday after dropping their playoff openers in 2018 and 2019. But before those losses, they were 8-2 in openers as a franchise and had won six straight without a loss under John Harbaugh. Let's just say they have a clue what it takes.

Lamar Jackson wasn't at all terse or defensive with the media this week when discussing his 0-2 record as a playoff starter. Although he confirmed it was "the number one (thing) right now" in his mind, I get the feeling other people are fretting about it more than he is.

No quibble with the notion that the Ravens' top priority Sunday is preventing running back Derrick Henry from taking over. But also key is not letting turnovers decide the outcome. The Titans had the league's best turnover ratio (plus-11) in 2020. They feast on not beating themselves while you do.

I'm always hesitant to suggest any extra emphasis on turnovers because they're critical in any game. But in the Ravens' playoff losses to the Chargers in 2018 and the Titans in 2019, they combined to force just one turnover while losing six. More of the same would be devastating.

Although the Ravens hope to fare better against Henry with Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams on the field, one should probably set realistic expectations. He failed to surpass 100 yards rushing in just six of 16 games during the 2020 regular season. So it can be done, just not easily.

Henry's season total of 378 carries is the most by any NFL back since 2014 and more than the combined carries of J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Mark Ingram II and Justice Hill this season. But that doesn't tempt me to speculate Henry might be running on fumes. Sorry, not buying.

The Ravens' biggest comeback of 2020 just might be the late-season surge of an offensive line that has experienced so much turmoil. It's tough to prosper when you start two left tackles, three centers, three right guards and three right tackles over 16 games. Job well done.

During the 2020 regular season, the Ravens registered more than twice as many sacks (39) as the Titans (19), which argues against the notion that the Ravens will just try to cram the ball down the Titans' throats with their running game. Jackson should have time to throw.

I'm not denying that the best evidence of cornerback Marcus Peters' value is he leads the NFL in interceptions since he entered the league in 2015. But this also tells you about his value: His team has made the playoffs in each of his six seasons in the league.

The difference in quality between the AFC and NFC this season is particularly evident in the depth of their playoff fields. Each of AFC's seven teams won at least 11 games, which is unusual and impressive. Meanwhile, the NFC has playoff teams that went 7-9 and 8-8.

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