After a huge letdown in Buffalo against the Bills on a last second field goal, the Titans will look to rebound against a familiar foe, the Ravens. For the younger Titans fans, in the early 2000s, a rivalry emerged between the Steve McNair-led Titans and the Ravens, who had Ed Reed and Ray Lewis leading a stout defense. The two teams played last year, with the Titans coming out on top and Kevin Byard snagging a pair of interceptions. Here are 3 keys to the game for the Titans heading into Sunday.
1 – Stop the deep ball
The Ravens have the ability to take the top off a defense. Ravens signal caller Joe Flacco is known for having a strong arm, and he now has receivers that can stretch a defense vertically as well. Speedster John Brown was signed from Arizona this offseason, and another deep threat Willie Snead came over from New Orleans. With Malcolm Butler’s struggles defending the deep ball this season, expect 3-5 shot plays from Baltimore.
The key to stopping the deep ball for the Titans will be two faceted. They must get pressure on Flacco; If he is under duress, long routes become impossible to complete. Second, they have to stick with receivers on deep routes. Adoree’ Jackson will likely draw Brown in coverage while Butler will match up against Snead. Byard and Vaccaro will need to do a good job helping over the top to stop the Ravens’ long passing game.
2 – Receivers have to step up
Nick WIlliams, former Titans’ receiver, has come under fire for dropping a pass in the endzone and not running a good route on a slant, leading to a Marcus Mariota interception. Despite the Titans cutting Williams this past week, there still is a lot of uncertainty and inconsistency among the pass catchers, as all players have had their ups and downs. Corey Davis has been far and away the best receiver on the roster, and also has consistently put up solid numbers.
Davis will likely be matched up against CB Jimmy Smith, who has lockdown ability. Other Titans receivers will need to prove they can be threats to take some pressure off Davis. Jonnu Smith, Taywan Taylor, Tajae Sharpe and Darius Jennings all need to step up this weekend and be options for Marcus Mariota. If they can’t the passing game will continue to look sluggish.
3 – Forcing turnovers
The Titans have forced 1 turnover each game in their last four games, which is fine, but nothing special. As mentioned previously, Kevin Byard helped the Titans in their contest vs. the Ravens immensely by forcing two turnovers. It would be very helpful to force some turnovers to help the Titans offense and get more short fields to set up easier scoring opportunities. The defense has been rock solid and keep a struggling offense in the game many times, so count on them to break through one of these weeks and flip the field a couple times.