Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee Titans: 5 Things To Watch for in Week 2
The Ravens are coming off of one of the most emotional wins in years, after embarrassing the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 35-7. The offense, although effective, didn't have much work cut out for them, thanks to the seven-takeaway performance by their defense.
The Titans, however, are coming off of a disappointing 16-14 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The offense lacked chemistry in the run game, and while their defense gave up just 16 points, they simply could not get off the field. The Jaguars had almost twice the time of possession that the Titans had.
Now, meeting for the first time since an AFC divisional-round matchup in 2008, the Ravens and Titans will square off in the Music City once again.
Here are five things we can look for:
Chris Johnson's Involvement in the Offense
In a game that flustered all of his fantasy owners, Chris Johnson carried the ball just nine times for 24 yards in the Week 1 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
According to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, head coach Mike Munchak plans on giving Johnson at least 18-20 carries this week, despite last week's truncated workload.
Unfortunately for the Titans, it will be against a stout Ravens run defense that allowed just 44 yards to Rashard Mendenhall a week ago. Johnson is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball, but this is a case where increased opportunity may not necessarily translate to increased success.
Johnson will also have the added motivation of facing a team that took him out early in the last postseason game he played.
Haloti Ngata vs. the Tennessee Titans' Interior Linemen
After being the central force of a Ravens defense that caused seven Pittsburgh Steelers turnovers last week, Haloti Ngata could be in for another dominant performance.
Mike Munchak's offensive line leans more towards finesse than the physical, which is great news for 330-pound Ngata.
Ngata lines up just about everywhere on the defensive front, and could likely see many matchups against right guard Jake Scott. If so, this could be a potential disaster for the Titans, as Scott is on the wrong side of a 38-pound weight discrepancy.
If Munchak is telling the truth about wanting to give Chris Johnson more touches, he may have to go back on his word once the Ravens' front seven have their say.
Third Down Efficiency
Last week against Tennessee, the Jacksonville Jaguars converted nine out of 18 third-down attempts while the Titans only converted four out of 11.
The Titans' defense routinely couldn't get themselves off the field against a Luke McCown-led offense, and there's no reason in the world why Joe Flacco and company couldn't replicate, or even top, those numbers.
On the other side of the coin, the Ravens posted a respectable seven out of 16 conversion rate last week against Pittsburgh, which gets overshadowed by the seven-turnover performance that their defense turned in.
If the Ravens can milk the clock with long drives and put points on the board, they will put a huge dent in the Titans' game plan to run the football.
Look for Ray Rice to Build on a Great Week 1
The Titans had no answer for Maurice Jones-Drew in Week 1, and should have their hands full once again with Ray Rice.
Rice decimated a proud Steelers defense with 149 total yards and two touchdowns out of the backfield. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron called a favorable game for Rice, often getting him in spaces where he is most dangerous.
Expect to see plenty of plays that feature Rice make their way from Cameron's clipboard onto the field. A new-look Titans linebacking corps will have their open-field tackling skills put to the test.
Can the Baltimore Ravens Offensive Line Answer More Questions?
Several concerns about the Ravens' offensive line followed them throughout training camp. Can Matt Birk stay healthy? Is Bryan McKinnie in shape? Will Michael Oher be more comfortable on the right side?
But after a punishing effort against one of the league's fiercest defensive fronts, those questions seem to have evaporated.
McKinnie played like his recent 400-pound frame was a thing of the distant past, and stymied pass rushers from the edge throughout the game. Marshal Yanda, who played right tackle for most of 2010, is back at his more-natural position at right guard, helping to open some huge holes for Ray Rice.
Whether the line can keep up their stellar play remains to be seen, but Week 1 taught us that an elite output could be on the horizon.