Tennessee Titans vs. Baltimore Ravens: Stopping Ray Rice the Key
Statistics say that 0-2 teams only make the playoffs roughly 10 percent of the time, so a win is crucial for the Titans.
The Titans are huge underdogs heading into this game, as they should be. The Ravens just got done man handling the Pittsburgh Steelers to start the season off.
Ray Rice played a huge part in that win over the Steelers and you better believe he'll be a major part of the game plan against the Titans.
For the Titans to keep this game close, they'll have to hold Rice under 100 yards of offense. That will be no easy task, but it can be done.
The Titans struggled against another great receiving back in Maurice Jones-Drew last week, but they made adjustments in the second half to slow Jones-Drew down.
The biggest threat that Rice poses is his ability to turn a short reception into a big gain. It makes it a lot harder for defenses to get off the field when a guy like Rice can turn a third and long into a first down.
Yards after the catch are a major part of Rice's game and the Titans linebackers have to be sound in their tackling.
Guys like Akeem Ayers and Barrett Ruud will be tested at the linebacker position to make open field tackles on Rice.
Ruud broke out with 14 tackles last week and he'll need to have a similar performance this week.
The Titans have to stay disciplined on third down and keep everything in front of them.
Even though Anquan Boldin and Lee Evans are both proven veteran at wide receiver, the Ravens still don't have a major deep threat.
However, before the Titans can worry about defending against third and long, they'll have to make sure to keep Rice in check on first down runs.
Last week against the Jaguars, the Titans seemed to struggle to keep Jones-Drew from gaining four or five yards on first down.
Rice can do much of the same and did so often against Pittsburgh.
Obviously this is where the Titans defensive line will come into play.
Defensive tackle William Hayes is listed as questionable, so that could mean that rookie Jurrell Casey will get a huge opportunity to make an impact against the Ravens.
Expect points to be at a premium for the Titans against a stout Ravens defense. The Titans can't afford to fall behind early, and striking first might be the difference in the game.
Making Rice a non-factor much like the Jags did to Chris Johnson in the season opener will make the Ravens an ordinary team that the Titans can beat.
On the flip side, if the Titans allow Rice to gain yard after yard on both the ground and through the air, then 0-2 will certainly be the result.
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