Scouting report for Sunday's Ravens-Titans game

RAVENS PASSING GAME: Quarterback Joe Flacco never got untracked in Cleveland, throwing an interception near the goal line and averaging just 4.52 yards on a whopping 56 attempts. The performance was his worst in an otherwise promising start to the season. The Browns shadowed wide receiver John Brown with their best cornerback and held him to four catches on 14 targets. Will other teams employ similar strategies against the Ravens’ best deep threat? Receiver Michael Crabtree promised to “get back in the lab” after he dropped a potential game-winning touchdown against the Browns.

TITANS PASSING GAME: Quarterback Marcus Mariota played his best game of the season in a Week 4 win over the Philadelphia Eagles but threw an interception and averaged just 4.96 yards an attempt in a stunning Week 5 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Tennessee ranks 29th overall in passing yards and 27th in passing DVOA, according to Pro Football Outsiders. Wide receiver Corey Davis has easily been the team’s top pass-catching threat with 26 receptions for 361 yards. Dion Lewis is a threat out of the backfield with 21 catches through five games.

EDGE: Ravens

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RAVENS RUNNING GAME: The Ravens actually produced decent numbers against the Browns with 116 yards on 25 carries. But they seemed to abandon their run game for significant stretches as they have in several games this season. They’re averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, third-worst in the league, and still haven’t broken a run longer than 19 yards. Their individual linemen continue to grade worse as run blockers than pass blockers, according to Pro Football Focus.

TITANS RUNNING GAME: Tennessee’s primary runners, Lewis and Derrick Henry, have not been efficient, averaging 3.2 and 3.4 yards per carry, respectively. Like the Ravens’ running backs, they’ve struggled to break big plays, with no gain longer than 26 yards this season. Mariota is a threat on the ground with 122 yards in four games. Tennessee’s tackles, Jack Conklin and Taylor Lewan, have been solid run blockers.

EDGE: Even

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RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: The Ravens held Cleveland’s featured back, Carlos Hyde, to 63 yards on 17 carries, and they’ve limited opponents to 3.9 yards a carry, 10th best in the league. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield did hurt them with his mobility, and Mariota will pose a similar threat. Linebacker C.J. Mosley and linemen Brandon Williams and Brent Urban have anchored the Ravens against the run.

TITANS RUSH DEFENSE: Tennessee has allowed opponents 4.4 yards a carry, so this could be a week for Alex Collins to break out. The Titans have good individual run defenders, including safeties Kevin Byard and Kenny Vaccaro and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey. But their linebackers have struggled across the board.

EDGE: Ravens

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RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: The Ravens gave up 342 passing yards to Mayfield, but they sacked him five times and generally prevented him from sustaining long drives. They’ve held opposing quarterbacks to a 71.8 passer rating on the season. There’s not a standout star, but defensive backs Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, Anthony Levine and Tony Jefferson have all played well in coverage, and linebacker Terrell Suggs remains the team’s best pass rusher in his 16th season.

TITANS PASS DEFENSE: Tennessee has played the pass better than the run, with nine different players registering sacks and cornerbacks Adoree Jackson and Logan Ryan receiving solid coverage grades from Pro Football Focus. But the two best quarterbacks Tennessee has played, Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz, both threw for more than 300 yards with high passer ratings.

EDGE: Ravens

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RAVENS SPECIAL TEAMS: The Ravens allowed their second blocked field goal of the season in Cleveland, and they’re again auditioning kick returners after Tim White fumbled against the Browns. Kicker Justin Tucker’s only misses this season have come on the pair of blocks, and Sam Koch is tied for third in the league with 13 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line

TITANS SPECIAL TEAMS: This is where Tennessee excels. Veteran kicker Ryan Succop has been excellent, making 13 of 14 field-goal attempts, including all three of his tries from 50 or more yards. Punter Brett Kern has a net average of 43.3 yards, fourth best in the league, and has dropped 11 balls inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. The Titans have also returned punts and kicks better than their opponents, highlighted by former Gilman star Darius Jennings’ 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Week 1.

EDGE: Titans

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RAVENS INTANGIBLES: The Ravens were angry at themselves for squandering so many opportunities in their 12-9 loss at Cleveland. They’re 1-2 on the road and know they can’t afford another sub-par performance as they continue their toughest stretch of games this season. They’ll face a familiar defense, devised by their former defensive coordinator, Dean Pees.

TITANS INTANGIBLES: Tennessee is coming off a 13-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills, the same team the Ravens beat 47-3 in Week 1. But they’ve won both their home games, over the Houston Texans and the defending Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles. All of their games under first-year coach Mike Vrabel have been decided by a touchdown or less. With Pees running the defense and the Bills loss fresh in mind, they won’t overlook the Ravens.

EDGE: Ravens

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PREDICTION: The Titans don’t blow you away in any phase of offense or defense, but they keep games close and rely on their excellent special teams. The Tennessee offense is too short on big-play threats to exploit the Ravens’ balanced defense. And the Ravens should produce enough offensive tricks to bounce back with a 27-16 win in an essential road game.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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