Believe it or not, the Ravens will actually have to play 15 more games this season. They haven’t yet won the Super Bowl, despite how great last Sunday’s win over the Steelers might have felt to those in the Ravens’ locker room and the supporters of the purple and black.
Baltimore’s opponent this weekend will be the Tennessee Titans, a team which has now lost nine of its last 10 games. The Titans dropped eight of their final nine contests in 2010, and then opened their 2011 season with a 16-14 loss to the Jaguars last week.
Here’s how the Ravens and Titans match up statistically one game into the season:
Ravens: 385.0 yards per game (12th)
Titans: 292.0 yards per game (25th)
Ravens: 170.0 ypg (3rd)
Titans: 43.0 ypg (31st)
Ravens: 215.0 ypg (20th)
Titans: 249.0 ypg (16th)
Ravens: 312.0 ypg (11th)
Titans: 323.0 ypg (14th)
Ravens: 66.0 ypg (8th)
Titans: 163.0 ypg (t-27th)
Ravens: 246.0 ypg (16th)
Titans: 160.0 ypg (7th)
Ravens: +7 (1st)
Titans: 0 (t-12th)
I’d caution everyone not to read too much into those numbers; they could change very dramatically over the next couple weeks.
One such number that I certainly expect to change in a hurry is the Titans’ rushing total. I can guarantee you that with Chris Johnson in Tennessee’s backfield, that team will average just a little bit more (sarcasm, people) than 43 yards on the ground this season.
The blazingly fast Pro Bowl running back had great success in just one half of action against the Ravens back in the 2008 Divisional Round of the playoffs, recording 100 yards from scrimmage, including 72 yards rushing, before leaving with an ankle injury. The Ravens have made it clear that slowing Johnson is their top priority on Sunday. More on that later.
Former Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is now under center in Tennessee, and the veteran signal caller has a stud of a wide receiver to work with in Kenny Britt. The former Rutgers wideout has had a host of off-field issues during his short NFL career, but he’s one heck of a talent. Britt has size, speed, and could be an issue for a Ravens cornerback corps that will be without rookie Jimmy Smith (ankle), and could also be missing Chris Carr (hamstring).
When the Ravens have the ball, they’ll match up against a talented secondary which is led by Pro Bowl safety Michael Griffin and brash, in-your-face cornerback Cortland Finnegan.
Finnegan’s style - if you’re unfamiliar with his brawl with Texans receiver Andre Johnson last year - is to agitate the heck out of you by talking constantly and playing up to, and through, the whistle. He tries to goad receivers into penalties and get them off their game, and it often works.
The Titans lost their top pass rusher in Jason Babin, who was one of the 2,876,496 players to sign with the Eagles this offseason, and one of their starting defensive ends, William Hayes, has missed practice the last two days with a shoulder injury. The Ravens’ offensive line should have too many problems with Tennessee’s front-seven.
While Sunday’s game will be the Titans’ home opener and they’ll be fired up to atone for a tough loss last weekend, Tennessee simply doesn’t have enough talent to compete with the Ravens at this stage in the season. I expect Johnson to have a big day on the ground for the Titans, but Baltimore will have a bigger day on the scoreboard.
Put me down for a 27-13 Ravens win.
What about you; how do you see this one shaking out? Are you worried about Johnson, Britt and the Titans’ offensive weapons? Do you think Tennessee has a shot to surprise the Ravens coming off their emotional win over the Steelers? Or do you think Baltimore rolls and improves to 2-0 on the season?
Who you got?