A thrilling Wild Card Weekend is in the books, and we can now set our sights on what shapes up to be a thrilling Divisional Round of NFL Playoff action. Homefield advantage didn’t mean much in the opening round, as road teams went 3-1 last week.
Oddsmakers have painted a vastly different picture to consider for this week, as three of the four home squads are favored by a touchdown or more. Included on that list is this intriguing AFC battle in primetime on Saturday night.
The Tennessee Titans, fresh off of a road upset over the New England Patriots, heads to Baltimore to take on a rested Ravens team. Top seeded Baltimore has looked like a juggernaut this season and enters the postseason riding a 12-game winning streak.
Tennessee has the makings of a club that’s built for this time of the year. The team’s running attack has gotten stronger as the season has moved along, and the same can be said for the team’s defense. That said, they have quite the tall task ahead as they look to advance to the AFC title tilt.
The Ravens have been installed as big favorites, and that opens up plenty of appeal from a handicapping perspective. Is a blowout in the offing? Or are the Titans about to surprise everyone once again with a tighter than expected affair? Let’s take a look and find out.
Tennessee Titans vs. Baltimore Ravens, 8:15 PM EST, Sat. Jan.5, CBS
Betting odds provided by: Sportsbetting.ag
Titans vs. Ravens Pick:
The Titans traveled to New England for the Wild Card round as 5-point underdogs. The game was tight from the onset with Tennessee walking into halftime with a 14-13 lead. The second half was hard-hitting and defensive-oriented with neither side able to get anything going on offense. A late pick-six by Logan Ryan sealed the deal as the Titans advanced with a 20-13 upset win.
The Ravens have had some extra time off since the final week of the regular season. They were home playing host to the Pittsburgh Steelers for that one, but they didn’t have anything to play for as the top seed in the AFC was locked up. The Steelers were still fighting for a playoff spot, but a Ravens team that rested a number of starters matched the intensity level to walk away with a 28-10 victory.
Tennessee opened up the season with a road date versus the preseason darling Cleveland Browns. The Browns made it clear that they weren’t ready for primetime as the Titans smoked them to the tune of 43-13. A rough patch followed, and the club would find itself in a 2-4 hole. A switch to Ryan Tannehill helped to light a spark, and the team would go on to close out the year winning seven of 10.
Baltimore burst out of the gates and walloped the Miami Dolphins in Week 1 by a score of 59-10. The team would go 1-2 over its next three, but it all came together after that one. After back-to-back losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and Browns, the Ravens would not taste defeat again. The club ripped off 12 straight victories, eight of which were of the double-digit variety.
The Ravens hold the overall statistical edge on both sides of the ball. The team boasts a rushing attack which has produced at historical levels. The defense dealt with a ton of attrition heading into the season, but they have evolved into a dangerous unit. All that said, the Titans are far from pushovers and have demonstrated they can hang with the big boys several times this season.
Tannehill has been excellent since taking over for Marcus Mariots. He threw for 22 TDs versus six picks in the regular season, but had a quiet day in last week’s win over the Patriots. Derrick Henry has been a monster out of the backfield this season, and last week was no exception as he rumbled for 182 yards and a score. Ryan has been a defensive standout this year, as has Harold Landry III.
Preseason questions about Lamar Jackson’s viability as a starting QB in the NFL seem rather silly right about now as he has put together an MVP caliber season.. Mark Ingram has been a force in the backfield, but he’s banged up and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to go on Saturday. Mark Andrews has been the top target in the passing game, while Matthew Judon is among the biggest factors on defense.
The Ravens hold a slight advantage in all-time meetings with the Titans, leading the series by a margin of 12-11. The last meeting took place in 2018 with Baltimore picking up a 21-0 road victory.
For the season to date, Tennessee is 9-7-1 against the spread and 10-7 on the Over/Under. Baltimore is 10-6 ATS and 9-7 on totals.
Since the 2017 season, the Titans are 6-7 straight-up as road underdogs and 7-6 ATS. The Ravens are 16-6 overall as home favorites over that span and 8-14 ATS.
While the spread is huge, this may be the most intriguing of all four of this weekend’s playoff tilts. We have a team that fits the profile of an incredibly tough out in the postseason getting set to take on the club that was the league’s best in the regular season.
Tennessee showed a lot last weekend. While the Patriots had a lot of chinks in the armor heading into the playoffs, the fact remains that heading into New England and walking out with a playoff victory is a monumental achievement.
There’s a risk that the extra time off could hamper the Ravens momentum, but the team made a big statement in Week 17. While several starters saw little or no action, the club still pounded a Steelers squad which had lots to play for.
On paper, there’s no questioning that Baltimore is the better team. However, that doesn’t mean that this tough Titans squad can’t make a game of it. The Ravens are your likely winners, but Tennessee keeps it closer than expected.