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Ravens News 1/10: Contagious competitiveness and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson’s Desire to Win Is ‘Contagious’ - Ryan Mink

“I’m bringing a Super Bowl here. That’s my goal,” Jackson said this week. “I’ve been wanting a Super Bowl ever since I was a kid. That’s why I play the game, because I want to win.”

Jackson’s approach this week has been the same as always. While he realizes he’s now in a win-or-go-home situation, he’s still laughing, having a good time with teammates as he prepares for the Titans.

“Same as we always see – just really diligent, energy, working his way through things like you expect him to and hope he does,” Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said. “He comes to work every day with a great attitude, lots of energy, and he’s a great leader for us and a lot of fun to coach.”

“It’s infectious, man. I haven’t seen anyone that’s so hell bent on winning. It’s all he cares about,” tight end Mark Andrews said.

“When he says the only thing he cares about is winning a Super Bowl, he means that. He’s been saying that since Day 1, and that’s rubbed off on everyone in this locker room, everyone in this facility and everyone in this organization and in this city. So, it’s been so much fun being around the guy that has that type of ‘it’ factor about him.”

All of the ways NFL defenses have tried (and failed) to stop Lamar Jackson from running - Steven Ruiz

This is not one of those cases, because there are no X’s and O’s that can account for how good No. 8 is with the ball in his hands. Just ask the many defenses that have tried to contain him in 2019. Opposing defenses have tried every tactic out there to stop Jackson from gashing them on the ground, and while some of them have been more effective than others, none of them have really worked.

If Pees sticks with the gameplan he used against Roman’s offense eight years ago, the Ravens running backs could have a monster day. And Baltimore’s coaching staff will still find some other way to put the ball in Lamar’s hands anyway.

When Jackson is at quarterback, the possibilities are endless. Roman’s creativity isn’t stifled like Shanahan’s was when he was coaching Griffin and Manziel. He has a quarterback who can do it all, as NFL defenses have learned this season. Opposing coaches can keep searching, but there isn’t a scheme that can overcome Lamar Jackson’s talent.

Titans-Ravens: AFC Divisional Round preview - Nick Shook

Under Pressure

The Ravens ...

-- Converted first down on 31.5 percent of rush attempts (highest rate since 1940)

-- Had nine games with 200-plus rushing yards (most in a season since 1978 Patriots, who had 11)

The Titans might have an ace up their sleeve in this one, as they have been much stronger when they pair problem-causer Jurrell Casey with rookie standout Jeffrey Simmons. According to Next Gen Stats, Tennessee is stuffing runs at nearly double its usual rate (30.1 versus 17.6) with Casey and Simmons on the field and is allowing just 3.0 yards per carry when they’re paired up.

Matchup to Watch

Mark Andrews vs. Titans linebackers and Nickel package

This leaves the Titans on the tracks with a Ravens train of tight ends barreling toward them. Tennessee allowed nine receiving touchdowns to tight ends in 2019, third most in the NFL behind the Cardinals and Browns.

Prediction

Baltimore’s multi-faceted offensive attack makes for the first multi-possession difference in a Roman-Pees showdown. A two-headed attack of Tannehill and Henry tries mightily to keep up, but ultimately falls short to the AFC’s top team.

Baltimore Ravens 27, Tennessee Titans 17

Titans at Ravens: Odds, point spread, game pick, TV channel, preview and more for AFC playoff matchup - Jared Durbin

When the Titans have the ball

Although it might be tempting to just ram Derrick Henry down the Ravens’ throats all game long, Baltimore’s quick-strike explosive offense will almost surely put up more than the Patriots’ 13 points, which means Tennessee is going to have to score a heck of a lot more than 14 offensively this week. That means leveraging Henry’s success last week to get the efficient and explosive passing game that led this team on its playoff run, back on track.

When Tannehill looks downfield in this game, though, he’ll be looking into another very strong pass defense stacked with shutdown corners and arguably the NFL’s best safety. Since Marcus Peters arrived in Baltimore prior to the team’s Week 7 game, the trio of him, Jimmy Smith, and Marlon Humphrey has absolutely smothered opposing receivers. Among the 116 cornerbacks who have played 200-plus snaps during that time, Smith ranks 11th in passer rating allowed (65.4), while Peters ranks 16th (69.8) and Humphrey ranks 37th (87.0).

When the Ravens have the ball

The Titans did an excellent job of holding down the Patriots’ offense in the wild-card round, but they’re about to face a whole different kind of test this week. The Ravens finished the season second in total yards, first in points, third in yards per play, second in yards per drive, first in points per drive, first in the percentage of drives that ended in a score, fifth in the percentage of drives that ended in a turnover, and first in rushing, passing, and overall offensive DVOA. In other words, they’re really freaking good.

Baltimore was the only NFL team to run more often than it passed this season, and while that is generally a losing proposition, that was not the case for the Ravens. Their 55 percent success rate on rushing plays, per Sharp Football Stats, was better than any team in the NFL’s success rate on passing plays. There are a ton of teams out there that, when they run the ball, defenses should thank their lucky stars. The Ravens are not one of those teams.

Prediction: Ravens 30, Titans 20

Sources: Ravens RB Mark Ingram expected to play against Titans - Jamison Hensley

Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram was listed as questionable Thursday for Saturday’s playoff game against the Tennessee Titans but is expected to play, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Ingram returned to practice Thursday, participating in his first team workout since injuring his left calf on Dec. 22.

Ingram did not appear to favor his injured calf when doing some light running and performing high knee kicks on the sideline during the special-teams portion of practice.