The Baltimore Ravens will face the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night. The Ravens ended the regular season on a 12-game winning streak and will look to advance to their first AFC Championship game since 2012. Here are 5 players to watch.
Lamar Jackson, the clear frontrunner to be named the NFL MVP, will be playing in only the second playoff game of his young career. Jackson drew his first playoff start in a loss against the Chargers during last year's Wild Card round, where he completed 14 out of his 29 passes for 2 touchdowns and an interception. Now in his second season, this will be Jackson's first true test on a playoff stage. He has certainly came a long way since that game against the Chargers. Here is a quick comparison of Jackson's statistics between his rookie and sophomore seasons:
2018: 7 starts, 58.2 cmp%, 1,201 passing yards, 6 passing touchdowns, 3 interceptions
2019: 15 starts, 66.1 cmp%, 3,127 passing yards, 36 passing touchdowns, 6 interceptions
That is without even factoring in his 1,206 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns this season. Jackson unquestionably had one of the best individual seasons of all-time. He has already proven himself during the regular season in big games against the Patriots, 49ers, and Seahawks. Now, he has an opportunity to win his first playoff game. The Titans will not be an easy out, but if Jackson plays at his typical level, he is nearly impossible to stop.
Tennessee's defense has allowed opposing tight ends to produce strong numbers. In fact, they allowed 916 receiving yards (7th worst) and 9 touchdowns (3rd worst) to tight ends this season. This is a phenomenal matchup for Mark Andrews, who leads the Ravens in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. The Titans have struggled to stop tight ends all season, and now, they will have to contain one of the best in the league.
The Titans relied heavily on Derrick Henry against the Patriots. Henry had 34 carries for 182 rushing yards and a touchdown. Henry, the NFL's leading rusher, will certainly be the focal point of their offense again on Saturday night. Slowing him down will be extremely important for the Ravens.
The Ravens allowed the 5th fewest rushing yards per game this season, and Brandon Williams is a large part of that. Williams excels at stopping the run. Here is a quick example of his impact. Early in the season, the Ravens allowed Nick Chubb to run for 165 yards and 3 touchdowns on 20 carries with Williams sidelined with a knee injury. In their Week 16 rematch, Williams was healthy, and Chubb was held to 45 yards on 15 carries. The 336-pound defensive tackle will need to be game-wrecker on Saturday.
Mark Ingram, who is dealing with a calf injury, missed practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. His status for this week's game is still uncertain.
Ravens practice report: Did not participate: RB Mark Ingram (calf) and DT Brandon Williams (not-injury related).— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) January 8, 2020
Limited: TE Mark Andrews (ankle)
Everybody else practiced in full.
However, he was able to return to practice on Thursday, and according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Athletic, he looked “comfortable” moving around.
Mark Ingram was on practice field. Media viewing ended before special teams portion was over but Ingram looked comfortable running and moving around.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) January 9, 2020
We should get an update on Ingram's status soon.
If Ingram cannot play, the workload will go to Gus Edwards. Edwards is having a strong season. He has rushed for 711 yards and is averaging 5.3 yards per carry. He started in Baltimore's Week 17 matchup against the Steelers and rushed for 130 yards on 21 carries. Even though Ingram had a Pro Bowl season, Edwards is more than capable of taking over if he is sidelined.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman seems very confident in Edwards, as well. He said the following via the Ravens official website: “We love our backs, and [backup running back] Gus [Edwards] is obviously a very important part of that group. I think he would love lots of action, like you want him to. He’ll be ready. We really don’t have to skip a beat.”