Ravens run offense vs. Titans run defense: : The Ravens, who had the NFL's fourth-best ground attack, had an effective running game against Tennessee earlier this season. RBs Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain combined for 115 rushing yards. McClain has taken over as the featured back the past seven weeks, averaging 86.5 yards and scoring six touchdowns. The Titans, who had the sixth-ranked run defense, get the right side of their line back with the return of DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (groin) and DT Albert Haynesworth (knee) from injuries. Edge: Ravens:
Ravens pass offense vs. Titans pass defense: : In his first playoff start, Joe Flacco didn't have spectacular numbers, but he didn't turn the ball over and helped convert 42 percent of the Ravens' third downs. In the previous meeting with Tennessee, the rookie quarterback threw two interceptions. The Ravens protected Flacco that game, holding the Titans without a sack. In three games against his former team, WR Derrick Mason has averaged seven catches for 54 yards, scoring two touchdowns. Tennessee, which had the NFL's No. 9 pass defense, generates most of its pressure by rushing just its front four. The Titans' secondary is underrated. Edge: Titans:
Titans run offense vs. Ravens run defense:: Tennessee relies heavily on a two-pronged running attack of Chris Johnson and LenDale White. The Titans are 9-0 when they rush for more than 100 yards. The Ravens have allowed only two teams to break the 100-yard rushing mark this season. In Week 5, the Ravens limited Tennessee to 47 rushing yards. The Ravens allowed four rushing touchdowns, which led the NFL and set a team record. Edge: Ravens:
Titans pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense: : Pro Bowl C Kevin Mawae is out with an elbow injury, which means Leroy Harris will make his second career start. The Titans gave up the fewest sacks in the NFL (12), but they allowed three in Harris' only other start. This will mark the second time QB Kerry Collins has started against the Ravens since losing to them in the Super Bowl eight years ago. Collins exacted a measure of revenge earlier this season, throwing a game-winning, 11-yard touchdown pass to TE Alge Crumpler with 1:56 left in the game. The NFL leader in interceptions, the Ravens picked off Dolphins QB Chad Pennington four times, including two by S Ed Reed, who has 10 interceptions in his past seven games. Edge: Ravens:
Special teams: : This is a game that could come down to field goals. The Titans' Rob Bironas has converted 29 of 33 attempts, including 16 from 40 yards or beyond. The Ravens' Matt Stover, who has a sore right ankle, has made 17 of his past 18 field-goal tries, but only three have been 40 yards or longer. Ravens punter Sam Koch placed 34 kicks inside the 20-yard line, while the Titans' Craig Hentrich put 27 inside the 20. The Ravens have gotten a boost since going with Jim Leonhard on punt returns and Tom Zbikowski on kickoff returns. Edge: Titans:
Intangibles:: The Ravens have played 16 straight weeks and never really had a week off. (They had practiced all week before the NFL canceled their Week 2 game because of Hurricane Ike.) They are playing today on five days' rest. The Titans are the more rested team, enjoying their second bye of the season last week as the AFC's top seed. Edge: Titans:
Prediction:: Both sides have downplayed the playoff history between the teams. But in a battle of two evenly matched, physical teams, a field goal by Stover - one of two Ravens left from that 2000 Super Bowl team - proves to be the difference as the Ravens once again knock off the top-seeded Titans.