Tennessee Titans vs Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson looking to guide Ravens to AFC Championship game
Lamar Jackson in action for the Baltimore Ravens (Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea)

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are set to welcome the Tennessee Titans, fresh from their victory over the New England Patriots last week, to M&T Bank Stadium.  

The Ravens, who broke a number of records during the regular season, went on a 12-game winning streak and finished 14-2, clinching the AFC North, a first-round bye and the No 1 seed in the Playoffs – for the first time in franchise history.  

Mike Vrabel’s Tennessee is the No 6 seed in the AFC and caused a huge upset in the Wild Card round after knocking the Patriots out of the Playoffs.  

This will be the fourth postseason meeting between the Ravens and Titans. The last one was back in 2008, where rookie Joe Flacco led Baltimore to a 13-10 victory.

Embed from Getty Images

Ravens looking to pick up where they left off in the regular season

John Harbaugh’s Ravens come into the game fresh after a welcome bye week and they have their eyes set firmly on the Super Bowl.  

They’ve got to come through a tough test in the Divisional round though as the Titans roll into Baltimore having upset the Patriots last Saturday. Jackson will play his second postseason game for the Ravens on Saturday, with his first ending in a defeat against the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018.

Jackson and Mark Ingram both have over 1,000 rushing yards in 2019 and the Ravens running game is No 1 in the NFL – averaging 206 yards-per-game and 5.5 yards-per-carry.  

Ingram’s injury in Week 16, where he was forced to leave the game against the Cleveland Browns, is a worry for Harbaugh, but Gus Edwards, who has also had a great season, will take more of the load if Ingram misses out.  

Baltimore rested a number of starters against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17, but Robert Griffin III still managed to get the team over the line with a 28-10 victory over their divisional rivals.  

Despite the Ravens having a run-heavy offense, this doesn’t mean they’re not a threat in the air. Jackson recorded 36 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 113.3 passer rating in the regular season.  

Baltimore utilise their tight ends more than any other team in the NFL. Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle, between them, have more targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns than the top three receivers. 

Andrews has been a favourite target for Jackson and the tight end leads the team in targets, receptions (64), yards (852) and touchdowns (10). 

On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale brings the pressure on the quarterback more than any other team in the league. Baltimore’s pass rush has 37 sacks and blitz’s 54.9% of the time.

Embed from Getty Images

Derrick Henry will need to play key role in Baltimore

Against one of the best defenses in football, the Titans will have to move the ball early and regularly if they’re going to stand a chance of going to the AFC Championship game. 

Running back Derrick Henry is the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns. Against the Patriots, he had 182-yards and a touchdown from 34 carries - averaging 5.4 yards-per-carry. 

Tennessee’s offense also relies on their run game, but that’s not to say they’re not as dangerous in the air. Despite being ranked 21st in yards-per-game, Ryan Tannehill has thrown 22 touchdowns and has a 117.5 passer rating. 

Henry has been and will be key to the Titans winning this game. Whenever the running back has rushed for 100+ yards this season, Tennessee are 7-0. 

Vrabel’s team were 2-4 under Marcus Mariota and the head coach made the big call to name former Miami Dolphins quarterback Tannehill as his starter. 

The decision turned out to be a game-changer as Tannehill won seven of the 10 games as the starting quarterback, clinching the No 6 seed in the Playoffs. 

Against the Patriots, Tannehill completed eight of his 15 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. Rookie A.J. Brown has had a breakthrough year and has 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns. 

The Titans defense limited Tom Brady to 209 yards and an interception last Saturday, but they’ve allowed the seventh-most yards to tight ends this season. 

In the three previous meetings in the postseason, the road team have won all three games. Nevertheless, the Titans will take confidence from their victory in Foxborough and will have the belief that they can cause another upset.