The 2 teams fighting it out for top honours in the AFC South are both featured on Sky this Sunday, beginning with the Tennessee Titans trip to M&T Bank Stadium to take on the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens were most people’s favourites to win the AFC North and be well in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy. But they find themselves at 6-3, neck and neck with the Cleveland Browns in the race for 2nd in the division. The Titans themselves are tied with the Indianapolis Colts, also at 6-3 but that tussle is for outright winners in the South. Both sides have a lot on the line here and will need to improve on their recent form to claim that all important ‘W’.
Money line: Titans 2/1 Ravens 2/5
Points Spread: Ravens -6.5
My gut says these odds either have Baltimore highly overrated or Tennessee highly underrated in this one. I don’t see where a 6.5 point spread in favour of the Ravens comes from in all honesty.
The Titans offensive arsenal boasts the like of the rejuvenated Ryan Tannehill at QB, the electric AJ Brown at receiver, Jonnu Smith at Tight End and of course ‘King’ Derrick Henry at RB. The only issue is they are right in the middle of a 5-game run where they face a killers’ row of defences. In the last 2 weeks they went up against the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts. And after this game they face the Colts again and the Cleveland Browns. But this may be the toughest of the lot, and even the toughest in the entire league.
Tannehill has been a steady hand at QB since he took the mantle from Marcus Mariota last season and is usually a solid fantasy option. But his production did take a bit of a dip against the Bears and Colts which is not a good sign for a guy whose ability to carry the heavy load is regularly called into question. He seems to have tightened up his turnover count which raises his floor for fantasy.
The previously mentioned combination of Receiver AJ Brown and Tight End Jonnu Smith are his biggest weapons in the passing game. Given the quality of the Ravens corners, Brown is a bit of a risk, but I expect Smith to play a big part. With some issues on the offensive line, expect a lot of 2 Tight End sets so if you are stuck for a Tight End off waivers this week, you could do worse than Anthony Firkser.
As always, the run game is the Derrick Henry show and, barring injury, that won’t change. The Ravens bring a nasty front 7, although both Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams look set to miss out. If anyone can take advantage of those 2 hammer blows, it’s Derrick Henry.
For Baltimore, Lamar Jackson entered the season expected to be in the race to be the top fantasy QB in the NFL. He hasn’t quite lived up to that, as teams have been more successful at containing him in the pocket and forcing him to win with his arm this year. One of the first examples of how to shut down the Ravens read option game was provided by the Titans themselves in last years’ playoffs and Mike Vrabel will have his defense set up for a repeat performance
The ripple effect of Jacksons’ struggles has also seen Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews failing to live up to the high standards expected from them. While Andrews sits at 4th in TE fantasy rankings, 2 huge days vs Cleveland and Washington paper over the cracks of a largely mediocre season so far.
The Ravens RB corps is another one that favours more of a committee approach which hurts the fantasy stock of each of their backs. It’s very rare to see any of the 3 get over 15 carries in a game so while Dobbins, Ingram and Edwards have plenty of talent, there is a low ceiling on all of them in terms of fantasy production.
The most reliable fantasy asset Baltimore have is their defense. The presumed absence of both Campbell and Williams on that defensive line is a big blow though especially when Derrick henry is the one in line to test out what’s left. Big test on their hands but they won’t be in any mood to be ran over.
Very even game here. I think the most important battle of the day is Baltimore trying to shut down Henry without having to overcommit. The Titans are as good as anyone in the league at utilising play action and I think they can keep the very aggressive Ravens defense off balance and pull off a narrow win
Titans by 4