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How the Titans Match Up Against the Ravens


Of all the teams in the AFC playoffs, the Ravens drew the one team they haven't yet faced this season as their divisional game opponent.

The Tennessee Titans will come to M&T Bank Stadium fresh off a 20-13 wild-card win over the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

Here are the challenges the sixth-seeded Titans will pose, and how they match up against Baltimore:

The Titans are hot

Tennessee has won eight of its last 11 games. A Week 17 win over the Texans' backups, which qualified the Titans for the playoffs, is among those wins, but the Titans proved they're legit by beating the Patriots. Tennessee also scored a midseason win, 35-32, against the Kansas City Chiefs. Of the Titans' nine regular-season wins, five came on the road, plus this latest one in New England.

The Ravens are riding an NFL-best 12-game winning streak. But they're coming off a bye and six Pro Bowlers, including quarterback Lamar Jackson, sat out the regular-season finale. Rust will be a talking point considering key players haven't suited up since Dec. 22. On the flip side, if running back Mark Ingram II returns to full speed this week, the Ravens should have all 53 players at practice. That level of health entering the playoffs is very valuable.

Derrick Henry vs. a strong run defense

Titans running back Derrick Henry finished as the NFL's leading rusher (1,540 yards), beating out Cleveland's Nick Chubb. In his last two games, Henry has rumbled for 393 yards and four touchdowns on 66 carries. He's a 6-foot-3, 247-pound monster who is tough to bring down and has the speed to break a big run. The former Heisman Trophy winner ran all over the Patriots to the tune of 182 yards.

The Ravens have the NFL's No. 5-ranked run defense, allowing just 93.4 yards per game. Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce clog up the middle, but there were times when Baltimore was gashed on the edges. Henry did much of his damage against the Patriots on outside runs.

Ryan Tannehill on a roll, excels vs. blitz

The Titans' winning streak began when Ryan Tannehill took over under center for Marcus Mariota. Once he was the starter, he was the highest-graded quarterback in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. Tannehill threw 22 touchdowns to five interceptions and finished atop the league with a quarterback rating of 117.5. The Titans rode Henry in the first round of the playoffs, in which Tannehill went 8-of-15 for 72 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

The Ravens have perhaps the best secondary in the league, surrendering 207.2 yards per game (sixth-fewest). Baltimore's defense has been defined by pressure, as they've blitzed more than any other team in the league (54.9 percent). Tannehill thrived against the blitz with a 120.3 passer rating.

Titans' defense gives up yards and TDs, but gets takeaways

Led by former Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees, the Titans defense may look familiar to Baltimore fans in some ways. The Titans finished ranked 21st in the NFL this year in yards allowed per game (359.5), but 12th in points allowed per game (20.7). They were tied for 10th in takeaways (23). Those numbers portray a bend-but-don't-break defense.

However, Tennessee ranked 31st in the NFL this year in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on 68.1 percent of opponents' trips inside the 20-yard line. They did get a big stop in New England though. Baltimore's offense ranked second in the red zone, scoring 67.2 percent of the time. The only team with a better touchdown rate in the red zone was … the Titans, at 75.6 percent. Baltimore's defense, which had the third-best mark in the red zone (47.7 percent) may make the difference.

Tennessee fared well vs. mobile quarterbacks

Unlike all the other teams in the AFC playoff field, the Titans have not seen Lamar Jackson in person yet. Jackson's running ability is unlike anybody else in the entire league, but Tennessee did fare well in limited doses of other mobile quarterbacks. Buffalo's Josh Allen ran 10 times for just 27 yards and Houston's Deshaun Watson scrambled seven times for 32 yards against the Titans. Tennessee is strong up the middle with defensive end Jurrell Casey, inside linebacker Rashaan Evans is fast, and safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Kevin Byard are big hitters.

Pees went against a Greg Roman-led offense in Super Bowl XLVII when the now Ravens offensive coordinator was with Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco. While the Ravens won that day, Roman's 49ers piled up 31 points and 468 yards. Kaepernick ran seven times for 62 yards and a touchdown.

Rookie receiver caught fire

Ravens fans watching Saturday's wild-card game didn't see much of Titans rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown as he caught just one pass for four yards. However, Brown exploded at the end of the regular season, topping 100 receiving yards in four of the Titans' last six games. He scored six touchdowns over that span. The Ravens have the cornerbacks – Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith – to match up, but Brown will be a challenge.

Titans have an inexperienced kicker

While the Ravens lean on the best kicker in the game, Justin Tucker, Tennessee is operating with a kicker who hasn't had a field-goal attempt this season. The Titans signed Greg Joseph in mid-December after Ryan Succop struggled. Joseph, who kicked for Cleveland last season, has made all nine of his extra point attempts with the Titans, but didn't get a single field-goal try in his three games with Tennessee.

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