RAVENS PASSING GAME: All eyes will be on quarterback Joe Flacco to see whether he plays with any hesitation or sluggishness after he suffered a concussion in the Ravens’ win over the Dolphins on Oct. 26. The good news for Flacco is he should have his full complement of wide receivers back with Mike Wallace also returning from a concussion. Flacco has not turned the ball over in three of his past four games, but the Ravens still aren’t threatening teams down the field enough. Jeremy Maclin has three touchdown catches.
TITANS PASSING GAME: The bye week probably did quarterback Marcus Mariota and his sore hamstring some good. Mariota has had lot of success with play-action passes and in using his legs, but he’s not been as mobile as usual in recent games. Mariota has one touchdown pass or none in five of his six starts this season. The expected return of rookie receiver Corey Davis should help. The Titans rank 31st in the league in red-zone production and 27th on third downs.
RAVENS RUNNING GAME: There’s little ambiguity that Alex Collins has become the Ravens’ top back. He ranks ninth in the NFL with 478 rushing yards on just 80 attempts. Nobody else in the top 10 has fewer than 100 carries. He also leads qualifying backs with 6.0 yards per carry. Buck Allen has settled in nicely as the No. 2 back and leads the team with 32 receptions. The Ravens are seventh in the league with 126.9 rushing yards per game. They have only four rushing touchdowns.
TITANS RUNNING GAME: Tennessee plays a power game, especially in the red zone. The Titans’ nine rushing touchdowns are the most in the league, and five players have at least one. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, two big and hard-running backs, are essentially splitting the carries, and they’ve put up nearly identical statistics. Both have two touchdowns, and Henry is averaging 4.4 yards a carry compared with Murray’s 4.3. Tennessee’s tackles, Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin, are very good.
RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: That vaunted rush defense, a staple of the franchise, finally showed up in the win over the Dolphins. Miami’s first carry went for 21 yards; its next 18 rushing attempts generated 24 yards. The Ravens simplified some things up front after several weeks of struggles to stop the run. They lined up Brandon Williams in different spots and started Carl Davis at five-technique defensive end to add more bulk up front. C.J. Mosley is third in the league with 68 tackles.
TITANS RUSH DEFENSE: The Titans rank 10th in the league in stopping the run, allowing 100.1 rushing yards per game. They’ve allowed only three rushing touchdowns. Only three NFL teams have given up fewer. Wesley Woodyard and Avery Williamson are the team’s top two tacklers and are extremely active linebackers. Jurrell Casey anchors the defensive front. Tennessee hasn’t allowed an opposing back to reach 80 yards.
RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: Because the Ravens have struggled to generate consistent pressure from their front four, defensive coordinator Dean Pees has been aggressive with blitzes, especially on third down. Ravens safeties have six of the team’s 19 sacks. Another adjustment has been using Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey on the outside on third downs and Brandon Carr in the slot. The Ravens are allowing 185 passing yards per game, the fifth-lowest total in the league. Their 12 interceptions are an NFL high.
TITANS PASS DEFENSE: The Titans are giving up 229 yards through the air per game. They’ve allowed 13 passing touchdowns. They have just 11 sacks despite increased quarterback pressures this season. Only one team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has fewer sacks. Derrick Morgan has a team-leading 4½ sacks. Rookie first-round cornerback Adoree’ Jackson has been tested quite a bit already. Safety Kevin Byard has five takeaways in his past four games.
RAVENS SPECIAL TEAMS: Justin Tucker’s streak of 10 consecutive made field goals ended when the Dolphins blocked his 46-yard attempt. He’s made a kick from 50 yards or longer in three consecutive games. Sam Koch is second in the NFL in placing 17 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. He has just two touchbacks. The kickoff coverage has been among the league’s stingiest, allowing just 19.1 yards per return. The punt coverage has been less effective.
TITANS SPECIAL TEAMS: Ryan Succop has been very reliable this year, converting 20 of his 22 field-goal attempts and all 14 of his extra-point tries. His only two misses are from beyond 50 yards. Brett Kern leads the league in gross (51.5) and net (46.5) punting average; he’s put 12 punts inside the 20. Jackson, a dynamic athlete, is the Titans’ primary kick and punt returner. Tennessee is allowing 28.7 yards per kickoff return, the most in the NFL.
RAVENS INTANGIBLES: The Ravens put forth their most complete performance of the season in the 40-0 shellacking of the Dolphins. However, they haven’t been able to string together quality back-to-back performances since the first two weeks of the season. They also remain an enigma on the road. The long weekend after a Thursday game certainly helped, especially with Flacco’s recovery. However, the Titans are the healthier and fresher team.
TITANS INTANGIBLES: Coach Mike Mularkey’s team is tied for first place in the AFC South, but the Titans haven’t been especially convincing in getting off to a 4-3 start. They’ve been inconsistent on both sides of the ball, and the offense, which is well stocked at the skill positions, has underwhelmed. They spent the bye week doing a thorough self-review, and on the agenda was figuring out why they’ve been such slow starters. They’ve been outscored 37-19 in first quarters this season.
PREDICTION: At this point, the Ravens have become one of the hardest teams in the league to figure out. If they get off to a good start, they’ve shown the ability to control the ball with their running game and dominate with their defense. Yet they’ve also spent a significant part of the first half of the season looking inept on offense and vulnerable on defense. What team will show up Sunday? The Ravens aren’t facing a backup quarterback this week and the bet here is that their offense won’t do enough to keep up with Mariota, who is now healthy and seems ready to hit his stride. Titans, 23-13