Scouting report for Ravens vs. Titans

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco scrambles in the end zone to avoid the pass rush during a September 2011 game against the Tennessee Titans.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco scrambles in the end zone to avoid the pass rush during a September 2011 game against the Tennessee Titans. (Wesley Hitt / Getty Images)


RAVENS: Joe Flacco has gone three straight games with at least one interception and he's been sacked six times during that span. Even more concerning, the Ravens are getting decreasing production from their receivers. Steve Smith had more than 100 yards receiving in four of his first six games. He has just 138 yards over the past three. Torrey Smith has four touchdowns over the past four weeks but only 11 catches in those games. Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones remain non-factors on offense.


TITANS: The Titans have used three different quarterbacks, but they've settled on rookie sixth-round pick Zach Mettenberger. In his first career start against the Houston Texans, Mettenberger completed 27-of-41 passes for 299 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Receivers Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter haven't been as productive as the team had hoped, but poor quarterback play has a lot to do with that. Veteran tight end Delanie Walker leads the team in receptions and yards.



RAVENS: Because they fell behind by two scores in the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday, the Ravens mostly abandoned their running game. The result was 63 rushing yards, their lowest total this season. Justin Forsett is still fifth in the NFL with 609 rushing yards, but there are question marks with the Ravens' other two backs. Lorenzo Taliaferro had a momentum-killing fumble against the Steelers and Bernard Pierce had just one carry a week after being a healthy inactive.

TITANS: There have been flashes with their run game, but the Titans don't have enough to strike fear in the Ravens' vaunted run defense. Bishop Sankey, a rookie second-round pick, has emerged as the starter. He leads the Titans in carries (75) and rushing yards (302) and is tied for the team-lead with one rushing touchdown. Tennessee has only four rushing scores as a team. Only six NFL teams have fewer. Shonn Greene is the primary backup. The Titans average 101.1 rushing yards per game.



RAVENS: The Ravens are now ranked fourth in the NFL In run defense after holding the Steelers to 55 yards on 25 carries. For the season, the Ravens are surrendering only 86.4 rushing yards per game. They haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 19 straight games, the NFL's longest active streak. Brandon Williams and Haloti Ngata have done an admirable job occupying blockers and allowing Daryl Smith and C.J. Mosley to run free. The two inside linebackers rank third and fourth in the NFL in tackles.

TITANS: Head coach John Harbaugh said the Titans' defensive front might be the best that the Ravens have faced all year. However, the group is much more formidable against the pass than it is against the run. The Titans are allowing 134.8 rushing yards per game. That ranks 28th in the NFL. Three different backs have eclipsed the 100-yard mark against them and they've surrendered eight rushing touchdowns. Inside linebacker Wesley Woodyard leads the Titans with 72 tackles.



RAVENS: After allowing Ben Roethlisberger to throw six touchdown passes last week, this group underwent changes with the release of Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks and the addition of Danny Gorrer and Tramain Jacobs. Gorrer might start immediately alongside Lardarius Webb, who is also struggling. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has tried pretty much everything and everyone to limit big plays and nothing has worked. The best solution might just be a more consistent pass rush.

TITANS: The Titans have been able to get after the quarterback and cause turnovers, and they'll probably be motivated by what the blitz-happy Steelers did to the Ravens last week. Tennessee has 23 sacks and eight interceptions. Defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, safety Michael Griffin and cornerback Jason McCourty are their top playmakers. They're allowing a respectable 241 passing yards per game. Former Ravens' safety Bernard Pollard is out for the year after tearing his Achilles.




RAVENS: The Ravens are hopeful that Jacoby Jones' 108-yard kickoff return touchdown against the Steelers last week is the spark that Jones needed to turn around his season. It was his NFL-high fifth return touchdown since 2012. While Jones has struggled on punt returns, muffing two of them, he's helped the Ravens lead the league with a 31.2-yard kickoff return average. Punter Sam Koch had a strong game against the Steelers, dropping five of his punts inside the opponent's 20.

TITANS: Tennessee hasn't had a return touchdown on special teams this year, but both of their primary return men — Leon Washington and Dexter McCluster — are proven veterans who are dangerous with the ball in their hands. Kicker Ryan Succop is 11-of-13 on field-goal attempts and both of his misses came in Tennessee's Week 3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Titans' punt and kick coverage units have been among the league's best in terms of fewest yards allowed.



RAVENS: After being on the road in four of the past five weeks, the Ravens are back at home, where they are 3-1 this season and have outscored the opposition 109-46. The Ravens have won nine consecutive November home games, the NFL's longest such streak. The Ravens have been penalized 17 times over the past two weeks, so team discipline has become an issue. Looking past the struggling Titans shouldn't be a problem, not with a last-place standing and a bye week on deck.

TITANS: The Titans were viewed as a team on the rise under first-year head coach Ken Whisenhunt, but after a Week 1 win against the Kansas City Chiefs, things have spiraled downhill fast. Tennessee has lost six of its last seven games, including three straight on the road by a combined 93-41. Injuries and instability at the quarterback position have taken a toll. However, Mettenberger has injected some life. The Titans are also coming off a bye, so they should be well rested and prepared.


PREDICTION: With a patch-work secondary and a turnover-prone offense, the Ravens are not in position to look past anyone. But a home matchup against a rookie quarterback and a flawed Titans team comes at a perfect time. The Ravens have dominated inferior opponents all season and that shouldn't change here, not in a game that they badly need. They should be able to harass Mettenberger and mask some of their secondary issues. And even if Flacco and the passing game continues to struggle to find a rhythm, Forsett and the running game should be able to carry the day against a bad rush defense.

Ravens, 27-13

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