Baltimore Ravens (12-5) +3, 34.5 O/U at Tennessee Titans (13-3)
LP Field, Nashville, T.N., 4:30PM Eastern, Saturday
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The Baltimore Ravens have been as good as anyone in the 2nd half of the season winning 9 of their last 11 games. The Ravens will travel to Nashville this weekend to take on the class of the AFC this year in the Tennessee Titans. The Titans started the year 10-0 and have remained the best team in the AFC throughout the year. These two teams met earlier in the year in a defensive war with the Titans escaping with a 13-10 victory. These two potent defenses will clash again this Saturday with the winner moving on to play in the AFC Championship.
Tennessee had an exceptional year with a record of 13-3. The Titans fell off a bit down the stretch including being shutout by Indianapolis in week 17 23-0. The Titans will try to return to dominate form against a strong Ravens team this weekend. The Titans defense has been solid this season from start to finish. Tennessee has the 2nd best scoring defense in the league allowing a low 14.6 points per game. The Titans defense is only allowing 93 yards per game on the ground and the rush defense will need to stand strong against a powerful Baltimore rushing attack. However, the focus will be on the Tennessee offense considering they have not scored over 14 points in over a month of football. The Titans may not need to score many points in this anticipated defensive battle, but the offense must have some success and control the time of possession to take down the Ravens for a 2nd time.
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Baltimore is really playing well behind the emergence of rookie QB Joe Flacco. Flacco struggled early this season, but has really taken charge of the Ravens offense in the 2nd half of the season. Flacco was plagued by interceptions at the start of the year throwing 7 picks in his first 5 games. However, since Flacco has only thrown 5 picks in 11 games and kept the Ravens in control of the football. As long as Flacco and the Ravens offense holds onto the ball, they should fair well in this match-up. The Ravens defense has been as strong as you can ask this season ranking in the top 3 in the NFL in all 4 major defensive categories. Baltimore will look to shut down and struggling Tennessee offense and earn the right to play for the AFC Title.
Sportbet has opened their betting lines favoring the Tennessee Titans by a field goal at 3 points. The over/under total is really low at the 34.5 mark considering the premier defenses that are set to square off. ML numbers have Baltimore as +135 underdogs and Tennessee listed as -155 favorites.
Veteran quarterback Kerry Collins has been the man behind center for the Titans this season. Collins main purpose this season is to lead the team and hold onto the ball. Collins has only attempted 415 passes this season and the success has come from the Tennessee running game. The Titans are a running football team and their success on the ground runs parallel with their overall success. Running back Chris Johnson has rushed for 1,218 yards this season along with 9 touchdowns. LenDale White has also been used quite a bit at the tailback position. White is the bigger more powerful back and gets a lot of carries in short yardage situations. White has a total of 15 touchdowns this season along with 773 total yards. Look for Tennessee to be very determined to try and establish the running game against the Baltimore defense.
Baltimore runs a balanced offensive attack. Flacco leads the air assault and will look to find WR Derrick Mason often. Mason has racked up over 1,000 yards receiving on the season with 80 catches and he will be the go to guy when Flacco drops back to pass. Leading a strong rushing attack is a talented group of running backs. LeRon McClain has got the bulk of the carries this season, but will share time with Willis McGahee. Together the two have combined for 17 touchdowns this season and 1,500 yards rushing. If the Ravens can have some offensive success, they will be nearly impossible to beat if their defensive continues to play as they have all season.
Baltimore is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games and also 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games on the road. The Ravens have reached the under total in 4 of their last 5 games as well and are only 1-3 SU in their last 4 meetings with the Titans. Tennessee is 12-3-1 ATS this season and 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 games at home.
Jays Pick - I put a big play on Baltimore in this one. They are the more complete team this time around and the Ravens offense is playing much better than in the first meeting.