The Ravens will travel to Tennessee to face the Titans on Sunday in a rematch from last year’s playoffs. Baltimore has the chance to redeem themselves after being shocked and sent home by Tennessee a year ago.
Here are five keys for the Ravens to get their first playoff win in the Lamar Jackson era.
1) Contain Derrick Henry
Containing just the eighth 2,000-yard rusher in NFL history is much easier said than done, but it is possible. In the previous meeting between these two teams in the regular season, Baltimore was able to limit Henry’s damage on the ground for a large portion of the game, despite the absence of both DE Calais Campbell and DT Brandon Williams. The Ravens defensive line eventually grew tired, however, and Henry ended the day with 133 rushing yards on 28 carries, including the game-winning 29-yard touchdown run in overtime.
Henry will certainly rack up yards if given enough carries. The key is to limit big runs and prevent Henry from reaching the secondary, where he does the most damage.
2) Prevent big plays from wide receivers
Although Henry is the focal point of the offense, the Titans also have deadly playmakers in the passing game. WRs A.J. Brown and Corey Davis gave Baltimore’s secondary fits in their previous matchup, combining for 175 receiving yards and a touchdown. Brown embarrassed several Ravens’ defenders on his touchdown in which he broke several tackles to get into to endzone. CBs Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters will have to play better this time around to allow the rest of Baltimore’s defense to focus on stopping Henry.
3) Stick to the plan
In the previous playoff matchup between these two teams, the Titans shocked the Ravens by jumping out to an early 14-0 lead. This caused Baltimore to seemingly panic and abandon what they do best, which is running the football. The Ravens must stay calm and collected this time around, even if they find themselves in a similar hole again.
4) Avoid critical mistakes
This one should be obvious. Baltimore shot themselves in the foot in the playoffs last year with several self-inflicted mistakes early on, including an interception on the very first drive. Turnovers aren’t the only mistakes the Ravens must avoid, however. Although they have been better in recent weeks, illegal formation penalties and false starts have killed several offensive drives for Baltimore this season. Tennessee’s defense ranks near the bottom of the league in several categories, so the thing most likely to stop the Ravens would be themselves.
5) Keep Tannehill’s rushing in check
While Henry will garner the majority of the attention from the defense, Tannehill’s sneaky rushing ability cannot be forgotten. Tannehill scored seven rushing touchdowns during the 2020 season to go with 266 yards on the ground. Baltimore’s defense cannot overcommit to Henry and allow Tannehill to escape the other way with the ball for a big gain or easy touchdown.