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Titans Host Ravens in AFC Central Throwback Rivalry

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Both Baltimore and Tennessee sit at 3-2 and are in need of redemption after losing a winnable game.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens rivalry has roots of a deep-seeded hatred. The two had many historic and season defining battles throughout both franchises’ history.

Sunday’s match up will have major implications in determining how the AFC shakes up by January.

Home Field Advantage

The Titans have struggled to pack Nissan Stadium in the way they would like. The team had some momentum following a phenomenal overtime thriller against Philly, but some fans who watched the Buffalo game may elect to stay home. Hopefully, that’s not the case.

The Titans have posted a 13-5 record when hosting their opponent. Of the last 11 home games Tennessee is 9-2 and have won their last three. The Los Angeles Rams were the last team to defeat the Titans at home.

Tennessee nearly sent the Rams home with a loss, but ended up losing by four late.

Baltimore is 1-2 on the road this season with both losses coming at the hands of AFC North opponents. The Ravens are 5-6 on the road dating back to last season. Baltimore traveled to Tennessee last year and left with a loss.

The Titans are hoping the home field advantage will play in their favor.

Flacco

Ravens QB Joe Flacco is an interesting player. One week he is setting the world on fire and the next he is Blake Bortles-esque.

When Flacco has time, he can exploit defenses and make chunk plays through the air. If he isn’t rushed or moved off his spot, he can lead his team to 30+ points per game. With pressure in his face, Flacco is completely the opposite.

The Titans defense must rebound from their inability to attack Buffalo’s Josh Allen and focus their efforts on being absolute nuisances Sunday. A frantic Flacco is the quarterback the Titans want to see. Jurrell Casey’s ability to press and collapse the interior will be tested when he’s lined up against Raven guard Marshal Yanda.

The defensive front’s ability to rush the passer will be critical for the Titans defense. DC Dean Pees is familiar with Flacco’s tendencies - but the reverse is true, also.

Pees will shuffle personnel to confuse or bait Flacco into making some throws he may be fooled into thinking are there. If the defense can capitalize, Baltimore’s offense could struggle.

Defensively, the Titans will be thin at the inside linebacker group. Will Compton is out and Wesley Woodyard is questionable. Two veterans at that position watching from the sidelines is not ideal - especially when making the on field adjustments and getting guys in their proper spots.

Jayon Brown has been solid and Rashaan Evans is clearly working through his preseason reps. Evans physical ability has popped, but his rookie tendencies also have been noticeable.

Inexperience at the inside linebacker position is something the Ravens offense will aim to exploit. They have capable running backs who will try to do damage from the inside out. If Baltimore finds a soft spot in the middle of the defense, expect it to be attacked.

Targeting tight ends on linebacker mismatches will also be something Pees must prepare for.

LaFleur’s Game Plan

OC Matt LaFleur’s brilliance flashed over the first four weeks of the season. Against Buffalo, the Titans offense puttered and couldn’t seem to establish a plan of attack either on the ground or through the air.

Drops have been a problem and there isn’t much LaFleur can do about that. The Ravens Michael Crabtree also dropped a potential game winner similar to Nick Williams. Yes - drops happen and most if not all are costly one way or another. However, if drops continue for this Titans team the offense can’t evolve.

The Titans are rolling the dice on the same group of talent at receiver and tight end this week. If Corey Davis is the central focus of Baltimore’s defense, the Titans will need production from other pass catchers.

Taylor Lewan left the game early last week. If he can return to form, the Titans can try to run the football to more than just one side. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis have to have an impact. It will be essential to formulating any type of attack through the air.

It will be interesting to see how both LaFleur and Pees adjust their game plans for the Ravens.