This Week 9 showdown brings massive postseason implications. According to 538, the Ravens currently have a 42-percent chance of making the playoffs, while the Titans have a 48-percent chance. Sunday’s victor will be in strong position for at least a wildcard berth.
Baltimore’s defense matches up well against Tennessee. The Ravens elite cornerback trio should have no problem limiting the Titans underwhelming receivers. And their depth on the defensive line will be an asset against Mike Mularkey’s exotic smash mouth scheme.
Pass protection will be key for the Ravens offense. The Titans have accumulated only 11 sacks this season, second worse in the NFL. If allowed time in the pocket, Joe Flacco should be capable of connecting on a few vertical passes against Tennessee’s mediocre secondary.
WR Jeremy Maclin vs CB Adoree’ Jackson
When healthy, Maclin has been an impact playmaker for the Ravens. He has posted three scores and more than 11 yards per reception in six games. The rookie Jackson has coverage ability but is still learning the nuances of the cornerback position. Without help from safety Kevin Byard, Maclin should be able to beat Adoree’ regularly.
RB Alex Collins vs ILB Wesley Woodyard
Fresh off his best game as a professional last Thursday, Collins leads the NFL with a six yard per carry average. He has seemingly corrected his fumbling issues and is a threat to break off a long run on every touch. The Titans will counter with Woodyard, one of the most underrated players in the league. With 57 tackles on the season, he has been the central figure for Tennessee’s 10th ranked run defense.
RG Matt Skura vs DT Jurrell Casey
Skura has been a pleasant surprise in his four games filling in for injured All-Pro Marshal Yanda. His run blocking has been rather impressive, particular his ability to provide creases through effective seal blocks. Casey, a two-time Pro Bowler, may be Skura’s toughest assignment to date. Jurrell has averaged close to seven sacks per season since 2013. Although he has just two so far this year, he frequently causes disruption in the backfield by using his elite quickness.
ILB Patrick Onwuasor vs RB Derrick Henry
The inside linebacker position beside C.J. Mosley has been the Ravens greatest defensive weakness. Kamalei Correa gave way to Onwuasor, yet his issues in run defense has been exposed in recent games. Henry is a huge, punishing runner who is averaging 4.4 yards per carry in a backup role. After his 72-yard fourth quarter touchdown in Week 6, Tennessee will use him as their late game finisher if the game is close.
SS Tony Jefferson vs QB Marcus Mariota
Jefferson finally looked comfortable in Dean Pees scheme and put together a complete game against Miami in Week 8. Ozzie Newsome signed him precisely for games such as this one versus the Titans, due to his skillset as a box safety who can stuff the run as well as cover tight ends. Mariota has been merely average in 2017. Tight end Delanie Walker is his favorite target. Even if an ankle injury keeps Walker out, backup Jonnu Smith can still test the safety. Limiting Mariota’s rushing yards will also be an important role for Jefferson.
After consecutive ugly losses to the Bears and Vikings, Baltimore’s coaching staff has apparently received the memo that they must be aggressive. With an emphasis on downfield passing early, they can then lean on their running backs and opportunistic defense. This contest should follow the script of their four victories. 20 - 16 Ravens.