Titans Host Ravens In AFC Divisional Game

PFC Titans Writer: Dan Johns

The first round of the NFL playoffs are complete, now let’s turn to the Divisional Round of the Post-Season.  The Baltimore Ravens, the 6th seed Wild Card Team, who will travel to Nashville to take on the AFC’s Top Seeded Team with a 13-3 record, are no strangers to this stage.

These same two teams squared off in a 2000 playoff match-up which lead to a Ravens win against a Titans team that year in which was 13-3 and the # 1 Seed in the AFC, and to gain a trip to play the Titans, the Ravens first beat the Miami Dolphins that year – just like they did on Sunday – all too eerie, the same situation will play out this year and on top of it all, the Super Bowl that year was held in Tampa Bay – which is exactly the same case this year as well!

But for Titan fans, they’re hoping it’s not a repeat of almost a decade ago..  Both teams have seen drastic makeovers since that last 2000 playoff meeting, except for two of the key playmakers on defense for both respected teams – Ray Lewis of Baltimore and Keith Bulluck of Tennessee.

Kerry Collins gets his chance to take on the team that beat him in the Super Bowl that very same year of the 2000 season, when Collins was playing with the New York Giants.  Now a much older Collins has lead the Titans to the best record in the league which garnished them a home-field advantage and week off in the post-season.  However, the goals of the Titans extend much further than that.  They are playing for respect and recognition, something this Titan team doesn’t seem to get a lot of from NFL analysts.

Heading into Saturday’s pivotal match-up, the Titans are hoping for injured defensive stars – Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch to be at or close to full-strength.  The Titans will need them to stop the Ravens running game which features 3 different running backs.  Additionally, they need to get pressure on the young rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, something that Miami couldn’t do – which eventually lead to their early post-season exit.  A key injury that comes along the offensive side of the ball is veteran pro bowler center Kevin Mawae.  He his vital to the Titans run game and brings veteran leadership across the line.  Against the pass-rushing happy Ravens, it will be pivotal if Mawae can play.

The Ravens are coming off of a dominating performance against a Cinderella Miami team, in which they forced Miami into 5 turnovers and made the usually reliable Chad Pennington make mistake after mistake.  Collins plays similar to Pennington so they key for Tennessee to not end up like Miami , will be a better pass protection on their non-agile quarterback.

Both Baltimore and Tennessee’s offensives are considered so-so at best while both team’s defenses are considered top-notch in the NFL.  So will this be a low-scoring affair?  Where the first team who makes the most mistakes will loose the game?  Only time will tell.  Baltimore are coming off of a short week having to play Sunday to early Saturday, while the Titans who rested most of their started throughout the Week-17 loss to Indianapolis, basically will have had 3 weeks off to rest.  However, sometimes rust can be an issue so that also could play a factor.

These two teams met earlier this year in a Week-5 win by the road team Tennessee Titans 13-10.  It was a hard-fought, ugly victory in which the Titans relied heavily upon Chris Johnson who was limited by Baltimore’s defense- while the Titans used Len Dale White for all but a few plays before benching him for the better part of the game.  That can’t happen the second meeting around.  Both “Smash” and “Dash” must have a role in this game, albeit against a stingy Ravens defense – so Kerry might have to throw to victory, much like he did in the previous meeting earlier this year.