Ravens vs. Titans Week 2 Preview: 5 Things to Look for in Nashville This Sunday
The Ravens feature a stout defense and a much-improved offense, while the Titans play hard-nosed physical football and have one of the NFL's elite rushing attacks.
The two teams will meet for the first time since 2008, and they will look to restore one of the AFC's best rivalry games.
The Ravens are the clear favorites going into the game after their Week 1 thrashing of their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers, while Tennessee lost to a Jacksonville Jaguars team that had cut starting quarterback David Garrard just a few days earlier.
The Titans will need Chris Johnson to be on his A game during this week's home opener if they stand a chance to upset the Ravens.
Here are five things to look for during Sunday's game.
Titans Secondary vs. Ravens Receivers
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The Ravens proved in Week 1 that they can throw the football against one of the NFL's best defenses, so expect them to experience success when they take on the Titans.
Joe Flacco completed passes to six different targets, with Anquan Boldin leading the way with 74 yards receiving.
Safety Chris Hope is probable for Sunday's game with a shoulder injury, but I fully expect him to play because the Titans are going to need him if they stand a chance.
My fantasy sleeper for the game is Ravens wide receiver Lee Evans.
Evans failed to haul in a pass during Sunday's game against Pittsburgh, but with Tennessee more likely to focus on Anquan Boldin and tight end Ed Dickson, Evans is due to put up some numbers.
Advantage: Ravens receivers
Joe Flacco vs. Matt Hasselbeck
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Joe Flacco proved to the Ravens and the NFL world that he has the potential to become an elite quarterback in this league. The Ravens have put together a formidable arsenal around the young quarterback, and he is finally starting to take advantage of their strengths.
Matt Hasselbeck is already a proven winner, but he has a lot less to work with on Sunday than Flacco does. The Titans will need to get Chris Johnson and Javon Ringer going if they want to stand a chance. Hasselbeck needs to manage the game against this Ravens team, which is easier said then done.
Advantage: Joe Flacco
Will Kenny Britt Emerge as a Top Reciving Threat for the Titans?
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Kenny Britt has picked up where he left off last year, as he looks to become one of the NFL's elite threats at the wide receiver position. Britt hauled in five passes from Matt Hasselbeck while totaling 136 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1.
Opposing teams are going to line up to shut down Chris Johnson and make the Titans beat them through the air, so Britt should be a factor week in and week out.
I expect Britt to be a model of consistency for the Titans, while becoming the 2011 version of Brandon Lloyd.
Ravens Pass Rush vs. Titans Offensive Line
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This is the game's most intriguing matchup.
The Ravens No. 1 task will be to stop Chris Johnson, but if the Titans can get him going early, they will have a chance against this ferocious Ravens pass rush.
The Titans will implement Johnson into the offense more this week, and I fully expect them to utilize the screen game in this matchup. Look for the Titans to run a few more tosses and draw plays to try to prohibit Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata as much as possible.
Advantage: Ravens pass rush
Ray Rice vs. Chris Johnson
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Both team will use their running backs heavily in this matchup, with Johnson being the more important of the two to his team's success.
I expect both players to rush for over 100 yards and catch several passes out of the backfield, whether it be in the screen game or short check-down passes.
Advantage: Chris Johnson
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The game will be close until the Ravens break it open midway through the second quarter.
Chris Johnson will have over 100 total yards by halftime, but a costly Matt Hasselbeck interception will give the momentum to Baltimore.
Joe Flacco will continue to experience success and throw for two touchdowns, both to Lee Evans.
Terrell Suggs is a matchup nightmare for Tennessee, and he will record his fourth and fifth sacks of the season.
Prediction: 34-17 Ravens