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Playoff Game Preview

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Ravens-Titans: AFC Super Wild Card Weekend preview

Viewers can watch the broadcast live on ABC/ESPN at 1:05 p.m. ET on Sunday as well as stream live on the NFL App and ESPN app.

The Backstory

Of all the postseason possibilities Baltimore could've envisioned, it's not hard to believe a rematch with Tennessee was near the top of the list. Sure, desiring a wild-card showdown on the road against this team may sound ludicrous to some but this is personal for John Harbaugh's squad. Sunday's matchup takes place nearly a year to the day that Mike Vrabel and the Titans unceremoniously knocked the top-seeded Ravens off their perch in a stunning 28-12 divisional round upset.

Now without the perceived comfort (or pressure) of a first-round bye, Baltimore and its No. 2 scoring defense will seek to avenge last season's defeat and go on a deep run. Despite finishing with a better record in 2020, the Titans -- 2019's AFC runner-up -- and their No. 4 scoring offense again feel like the underdog here. And they probably wouldn't prefer it any other way.

Under Pressure

Lamar Jackson, Ravens QB: What good does accounting for 508 of your team's 550 yards do if it doesn't translate into points? Jackson and the Ravens found out last postseason when they went 1-of-4 in the red zone and lost by 16. Facing the NFL's No. 21 ranked defense should, in theory, afford Jackson another chance to rack up yardage. Of course, those stats won't mean a thing if the Ravens keep leaving points on the board. In Jackson's two career meetings against this team, Baltimore has gone 2-of-8 inside the 20; considering how many weapons this offense possesses, that is an alarming stat. Improving in that area will depend on the decision-making and legs of Jackson, who recently became the first QB with consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Jackson looked MVP-ish during the five-game win streak Baltimore needed to make it to this point, completing 67% of his passes (161.8 YPG) and tossing 11 TD to 3 INT. But, with questions still lingering about his ability to win big games with his arm, falling to 0-3 in the playoffs would do the 24-year-old zero favors.

Shane Bowen, Titans defensive play-caller: On paper, the Titans D looks vulnerable, much like it did in 2019. But, as we've seen twice now against these Ravens, Tennessee seems to pick the right moment to make a big play. The Titans picked Jackson off twice during their historic win, the first of which the offense turned into the game's first six points. A lost Jackson fumble deep in Ravens territory later in the game led to another lead-extending Tennessee TD. When these teams met in Week 11, safety Amani Hooker's third quarter INT and linebacker Harold Landry's drive-stalling sack in overtime were crucial in a six-point win. Containing Jackson, J.K. Dobbins and Co. is a big ask for this inconsistent group but the Titans' ability to generate turnovers (23) gives them a shot. In this battle of high-powered offenses, the difference could come down to whether or not Bowen's bunch can notch its eighth straight game with at least one takeaway.

Matchup to Watch

Derrick Henry vs. the Ravens' frontline: As if he wasn't already a lot to prepare for, King Henry conquered a major milestone in 2020, becoming only the eighth 2,000-yard rusher in NFL history. From dealing with stacked boxes to breaking tackles, Henry, who tallied just one game with less than 60 yards, found ways to dominate every week. In Week 11, Henry called game with a 29-yard TD run in OT, wrapping up a monster 28-carry, 133-yard performance. Missing from that matchup were nose tackle Brandon Williams and defensive end Calais Campbell, who B-More specifically brought in to help contain Henry. Both are expected to play alongside Matt Judon, veteran Derek Wolfe and rookie Patrick Queen. Williams and Judon are among the players Henry torched for 139 of his 195 yards in the second half last postseason. Minimizing Henry's impact obviously won't be easy but it'll be DC Wink Martindale's main goal until the clock hits triple zeroes... Good luck, coach.

Final Thought

Tannehill is one of the NFL's most proficient play-action passers; his connection with A.J. Brown and Corey Davis ranks among the top QB-WR tandems in the league. Davis outshined Brown with 113 yards in Week 11 but there's no guarantee he'll repeat that effort with a motivated Marcus Peters covering him. Meanwhile, Brown, who's managing a knee injury, will face another physical matchup in fellow Pro Bowler Marlon Humphrey, the NFL leader in forced fumbles (8). A lot of attention will be paid to what goes down with Henry in the trenches, and rightfully so. But what happens when Tannehill drops back will absolutely be worth keeping a close eye on, especially if Tennessee again jumps out to an early lead.

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