Ravens-Titans: Position Comparison

When you look at tomorrow's game between the sixth seeded Baltimore Ravens and the top seeded Tennessee Titans in Nashville, the game looks to be a war on the field, yet is pretty close on paper. There is not a huge difference statistically, as the teams are both built from the ground up, focused on running the ball and playing lock down defense. But who has the advantage on both sides of the ball, position by position? Let's go break it down and see which unit we'd prefer to have.

QB:  Both Kerry Collins and Joe Flacco have earily similar stats. While Collins threw for 2676 yards, 12 TD's. 7 INT's, compleing 58% of his throws for a 80.2 QB rating, Flacco threw for 2971 yards, had TD/INT numbers of 14/12 and completed 60% with a 80.3 QB rating. You can't get much closer than that. Therefore, based on experience you would probably lean towards the veteran Collins, even though the rookie has a much stronger arm. Advantage: Titans

RB: Both teams utilize a two prong rushing attack. The Titans were led by their rookie, Chris Johnson, who ran for 1228 yards and nine TD's, followed by LenDale White, who followed with 773 yards and 15 TD's. The interesting stat is that White did not have a fumble all season and Johnson only put the ball on the ground once. Baltimore's Le'Ron McClain had 902 yards and 10 TD's, while Willis McGahee had 671 yards and 7 TD's, but McClain had three fumbles and McGahee two. While the stats favor the Titans rushers, the Ravens two guys combined are more effective between the tackles in this type of game as both defenses normally stuff the run, especially around the edges. Based on their recent performances, I'll actually take the Ravens pair over the Titans. Advantage: Ravens

WR: There is actually a huge advantage to Baltimore in this category, which has rarely been the case in Baltimore. Both Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton have more receptions and yardage than their Tennessee counterparts, Justin McCareins and Justin Gage. Mason is one of the best possession receivers in the game and Clayton has come on very strong as a deep threat and a clutch third down performer. However, McCareins and Gage are solid veterans, although the edge here is clearly towards the Ravens. Advantage: Ravens

TE: Tennessee has two options at tight end, Alge Crumpler and Bo Scaife. Scaife is actually the Titans leading receiver with 58 receptions and killed the Ravens on the Titans final game winning drive in their 13-10 victory over Baltimore earlier this season. The Ravens Todd Heap was used more as a pass blocker earlier this season and therefore has had a statistically disappointing season with only 35 catches and three TD's. Advantage: Titans

OL: The Titans offensive line opened huge holes for their running game and protected Kerry Collins better than any other team in the NFL, allowing only eight sacks all season. The Ravens offensive line has done a remarkable job as the youngest o-line in the league. They've worn down the opposition late in games, allowing our RB's to rip off game sealing runs. They've done a very decent job giving Flacco time to find his receivers, although their 32 sacks allowed rank far below that of the Titans. However, Tennessee might be missing their All Pro center, Kevin Mawae, which could make a difference in the middle. However, you've got to go with the Titans up front. Advantage: Titans

DL: Both teams are very solid all throughout the defense, and while the Titans use a base 4-3 defense, the Ravens usually go with a hybrid 3-4. On the line, there is little difference although the Titans have the Defensive Player of the Year candidate Albert Haynesworth and perennial All Pro Kyle Vander Bosch returning from injuries. Jevon Kearse is no longer the "Freak" that he once was, but can still run with the best of them. Baltimore's Haloti Ngata was overlooked as one of the best athletes for his size, and Trevor Pryce is a pass rushing maniac, always near the QB. If Haynesworth and KVB are healthy, you've got to give Tennessee the advantage. If not, the advantage swings to the Ravens. Assuming the reports of them both being ready, the Titans front four gets the nod. Advantage: Titans

LB: How can any team have an advantage over the Ravens as long as Ray Lewis is patrolling the middle of the field? At 33, he is still the best MLB in football and faster sideline-to-sideline than any of them. Terrell Suggs has two pick sixes and both Bart Scott and Jarret Johnson have played very solid together as one of the top two units in the NFL along with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Titans still have the veteran Keith Bulluck making every play, but the advantage is heavily weighted towards Baltimore. Advantage: Ravens

CB: The Ravens pair of starters, Samari Rolle and Fabian Washington have been a pleasant surprise, as their position was a major issue in last year's embarassing season. Both have stepped up, Rolle coming back from injuries as well as illness, while Washington was a draft day trade and has made most Ravens fans forget all about the veteran Chris McAlister with his blazing speed. However, the Titans Nick Harper and Cortland Finnegan have shut down the top receivers in the game all season and therefore garner the top honors in this comparison. Advantage: Titans

S: This might be the biggest bone of contention with the fans of both teams. The Titans' Chris Hope and Michael Griffin have played extrememly solid, with 11 interceptions between them. They are fast, smart and hit hard. Together, they are as talented a pair as any in the league. However, the Ravens have Ed Reed and that pretty much ends the comparison right there. Ed has as many picks as the Titans pair combined and is a game changing player as well as a threat to score every game. Jim Leonhard has played brilliantly in place of the injured Dawan Landry, as a solid tackler and versatile addition as the primary punt returner as well. Regardless of the Titans joint success, I have to show my true colors, and go with the purple. Advantage: Ravens

PK: The Ravens Matt Stover is one of the NFL's all-time greats, but this season has not been one of his best, regardless of his recent streak of success. His distance has dropped considerably and he usually doesn't even kick off anymore. Meanwhile, Tennessee's Rob Bironas has one of the strongest legs in the league, along with great accuracy. No contest here. Advantage: Titans

P: Both kickers are among the best in the league. Tennessee's Craig Hentrich averages 42.8 with 27 punts within the opponents 20 yard line. Meanwhile, The Ravens beast of a kicker, Sam Koch averages 45 yards and placed 34 inside the 20 yard line, yet was overlooked for a well deserved Pro Bowl berth. Advantage: Ravens

Returners: The Titans' Chris Carr averaged 28 yards on kickoffs and 10.1 on punt returns, while the Ravens now have rookie Tom Zbikowski returning kickoffs, averaging 24 yards and safety Jim Leonhard sure-handedly returning punts for a 11.6 average. Carr is more of a threat than either Raven, hence the nod. Advantage: Titans

Coaching: While there are raised eyebrows in Baltimore for head coach John Harbaugh receiving zero votes for coach of the year, Tennessee's Jeff Fisher is the longest tenured head coach in the NFL, and for good reason. He knows his stuff, surrounds himself with great minds and motivates his team as well as anyone. Harbaugh has great coordinators helping him out in his rookie season, yet has made some questionable decisions, especially earlier this season. No question here as Fisher is one of the best in the game. Advantage: Titans

No prediction on the game based on these comparisons, as that will come in tomorrow's posting. However, this is sure to attract some interesting comments, discussion and debate, so....talk amongst yourselves!

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