Week 2: Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans
Sunday September 18, 2011 1:05 PM
Line: Ravens -6 O/U 38
Who would have thought it possible this time last weekend? I know I certainly didn’t. The mighty and fearsome Steelers were reduced from Lions to Lambs in a scant sixty minutes, and now just seven days later the Ravens have been dubbed the darlings of the NFL and favorites to claim the AFC North title. Will the Birds of Baltimore keep on the pressure against the reeling Tennessee Titans? Or will they suffer a massive let down after such an emotional battle? With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s keys to the game.
RavensGab.com Keys to the Game
Keep Rice Rolling
The Ravens were able to systematically destroy the Steelers on the legs of Ray Rice. His strong carries and ability to get the ball into space allowed the Ravens to set their pace and dictate the course of the game. Beating Tennessee this weekend will start the same way. Run the ball, manage the game, get the job done.
Stretch the Field
If you take a look back at game film from last weekend, I’d be willing to be a good sum of money that the most important factor in the Ravens’ win was the addition of Lee Evans. His ability to stretch the field meant that Pittsburgh had to contribute extra resources in guarding him. That allowed for a great deal of space in the middle for Flacco to pick apart the Steeler secondary. Look for that same technique again this weekend against Tennessee. It’s the only way to take away some of the talent from players like Cortland Finnegan.
Contain Chris Johnson
Before the Steelers were forced to adjust their game plan and start playing catch up, Rashard Mendenhall was averaging almost six yards per carry. That’s a very scary number to think about and may expose a singular weakness in the Ravens game play. Chris Johnson may be rusty, but he’s still one of the premiere runners in the game. The Ravens must contain him to win.
Secondary Steps Up
The flip side to containing Chris Johnson is to make sure Kenny Brit doesn’t burn you for massive yardage. The Ravens secondary is hurting badly after their show down with Pittsburgh, and will need to step up and play lights out despite being without starters Jimmy Smith and Chris Carr. The Ravens pride themselves on being a next man up kind of team. It’s time for them to prove it.
Put Hasselbeck on his Back
The Ravens were absolutely monstrous on defense last week. They were creating turnovers, hitting players in space, tackling well, and above all else getting solid pressure on Roethlisberger. Although the Titans are simply not as talented across the board as the Steelers, Hasselbeck still has a really rapid release and can get the ball moving quickly. The Ravens will have to get to him fast and keep him contained to prevent this from being a trap game.
Ravens Gab Predictions
Jonathon Scruggs (1-0)
I predicted a close game last weekend and was proved dead wrong. I’m predicting a close game again this weekend, but hoping for the same outcome.
Ravens 23 — Titans 17
Matt Jergensen (0-1)
The Ravens could not have played any better than they did last week. In week two they go on the road for the Titans’ home opener. This contest has all the typical signs that scream “trap game”. But even though I don’t expect Baltimore to be as potent on both sides of the ball this week they are simply too talented not to come away with a win.
Ravens 24 – Titans 13
Gene Winner (1-0)
Tennessee may be a team in transition but they have weapons in the rushing attack and passing game. The recipe for success is getting out to an early lead with a heavy dose of Ray Rice. The defense must limit big gains by the Titans’ running back Chris Johnson. The Ravens ‘D’ may already be in Chris Johnson’s head, he recently commented that the Ravens ‘wanted to hurt him a little bit’ in the 2008 playoff game–he’s still thinking about that three years later.
Ravens 24 – Titans 10