Can Saturday arrive soon enough?
We’re less than 48 hours away from the latest “Rumble on the Cumberland” between the Tennessee Titans and the hated Baltimore Ravens.
With a berth in the AFC Championship Game and the continued pursuit of Super Bowl dreams on the line, both teams will give it their all as they prepare to pen the latest chapter in one of the league’s most bitter rivalries.
Here are a few keys to a Tennessee Titan victory this weekend.
Contain Baltimore’s M&M backfield
Like the Titans, smashmouth football is also a key ingredient in the recipe of success for the Ravens. To continue the food analogy, Baltimore’s M&M backfield (McGahee, McClain) can be as destructive to opposing defenses as the aforementioned bite-sized candies are to the teeth of cavity-stricken children.
When the Ravens really want to overpower the opposition, they run the 260 lb. McClain behind the 255 lb. battering ram himself, Lorenzo Neal. For those who are counting, that’s over 500 pounds streamrolling in the direction of the defense.
Needless to say, stopping Baltimore’s 4th ranked rushing offense will be of the utmost importance to the Titans this weekend, (a healthy Albert Haynesworth would go a long way in making this goal a reality).
Give Ed Reed the Deion treatment
In his heyday, Deion Sanders was one of the game’s elite shutdown corners. He would take away a side of the field as wise opposing quarterbacks threw the football in the opposite direction of “Primetime.”
The Titans should extend the same level of respect to ball-hawking Ravens’ safety Ed Reed. Run at him all game long, but whatever you do Kerry Collins, don’t throw in his vicinity!
I mean, what else do you do against a guy who has at least two interceptions in five of his last seven games?
Keep an eye on Clayton
Often overshadowed by the exploits of former Titan Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton is more than capable of making his share of plays.
While Mason is the possession and go-to-guy, Clayton is the big play threat for the Ravens, as evidenced by his 17 yards per catch. In addition to getting him involved in the deep passing game, the Ravens also like to run him on reverses.
In what will most likely be a game filled with ball control offense by both teams, a big play or two could easily be the difference between the winning and losing. Therefore, keeping their eyes on Baltimore’s main big-play threat should be a big priority for the Titans.
Move the chains, Titans!
One of the few weaknesses associated with the 13-3 Tennessee Titans has been their inability to consistently move the chains on third downs. Converting on only 36% of their third down opportunities, the Titans were ranked a lowly #24 in the league in that category.
Against a stout Ravens’ defense, moving the chains and prolonging drives will be of great importance.
It’s Alge Time!
It’s been a disappointing year for former Pro Bowl TE Alge Crumpler. Although he’s consistently wreaked havoc with his blocking, he’s been less than stellar in the passing game.
One of Algernon’s few bright spots in 2008 came against the Ravens, as he hauled in the touchdown pass that gave the Titans a hard fought 13-10 victory. In that same contest, fellow TE Bo Scaife was targeted often, catching 7 balls for 72 yards that day.
The Ravens will most likely pay a lot more attention to Bo Scaife this time around and hopefully, that will give Alge an opportunity or two to make some plays this weekend.
What are your keys to a Tennessee Titan playoff victory?