Titans vs. Ravens: Keys to victory

The Tennessee Titans will reacquaint themselves with an old rival in this weekend’s matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. It seems like only yesterday when the two teams clashed at least bi-annually in memorable AFC Central and playoff battles.
Just as it was back then, the Titans and the Ravens appear to be emerging as playoff contenders in 2008. Tennessee is undefeated and Baltimore narrowly lost their first game of the season last Monday night against Pittsburgh.
Here are my keys to a Titan victory over the Ratbirds on Sunday.

Ray Lewis, meet Chris Johnson
Johnson, who was recently named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month, will have the tall task of facing the daunting Baltimore Raven defense, led by intimidating LB Ray Lewis. The stingy unit hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 22 consecutive games.
A lingering shoulder injury to LenDale White may force Johnson to carry a heavier workload against Baltimore. Johnson’s a smaller back so the Titans must be able to get CJ touches out in space to maximize his abilities and to decrease the punishment he’ll receive on Sunday.
Ray Lewis ended the promising rookie season of RB Rashard Mendenhall with a crushing blow that fractured the rookie runner’s shoulder. Hopefully, CJ will fare much better in his first encounter with Ray-Ray.
Flatten Flacco
The aggressive Titan defense should be licking their chops as they prepare to face Baltimore’s rookie QB Joe Flacco.
The rookie signal-caller has performed like an Average Joe thus far, throwing only 1 TD pass and 2 INT’s while accumulating a less than desirable 65.9 QB rating. Fortunately for Flacco, the Ravens rely upon their running game and strong defense to win ballgames.
On Sunday, the Titan defense must consistently harass the former Blue Hen into making the kind of mistakes that you expect to see from a young quarterback. The Titans’ ability to flatten Flacco will go a long way towards securing another victory for the good guys.
Exorcise ghosts of Titans past
Once upon a time, during the heyday of the Titan-Raven rivalry, Derrick Mason, Lorenzo Neal and Samari Rolle were all key performers for the Tennessee Titans. Since then, all three of these old Titans have at some point traded in their two-tone blue garb for the hated colors of purple and black.
Rolle won’t be playing this week due to an injury, but the Titans will have their hands full containing the other ex-Titans. Neal, who is currently the leader in our all-time franchise FB poll, is still a blocking force to be reckoned with at FB. As for Mason, I’m looking forward to seeing how up-and-coming CB Cortland Finnegan fares against the former Titan standout.
Like the heroes in the old movie Ghostbusters, the Titan defense should be armed and ready with their proton packs as they bang heads with ghosts of the franchise’s storied past.
What are your keys to a Titan victory against Baltimore?

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