(WJZ)- Riding a five-game winning streak, the Ravens are arguably the hottest team entering the Wild Card round. They now face a Tennessee Titans team that has had their number, knocking them from the playoffs last season and stunning them in overtime earlier this year.
All signs seem to point to the team and quarterback Lamar Jackson bringing plenty of confidence into Sunday’s action. After beating the Bengals last Sunday, Jackson said that the biggest difference he sees in this year’s team compared with last season is their ability to respond to adversity.
"We had to face even more adversity and I like how our team responded…We battled together."
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) January 3, 2021
NFL on CBS lead reporter Tracy Wolfson understands where Jackson is coming from with those comments, saying she believes the team is playing its best football right now. But, there is still one nagging question that remains unanswered when she looks at the team.
“The question mark that always still remains with me for the Ravens is, if they don’t get out to that lead and they fall behind early, can they catch up,” asked Wolfson in an interview with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer. “The key (for Tennessee) is keeping the Ravens off the field, getting off to a big lead because I think the difference with this Titans team is that their defense is just really not up to par this time around and certainly containing Lamar Jackson is a difficult task. It’s an interesting battle and those are interesting words from Lamar Jackson because I think he does feel this team is peaking at the right time.”
The main focus of the Titans is, of course, newly minted 2,000-yard running back Derrick Henry. Henry has dominated the last two games against Baltimore, rushing 30 times for 195 yards last postseason and 28 times for 133 yards and the game-winning score in the regular season this year. It comes as no surprise that stopping Henry is likely to be the focal point of the defensive game plan.
“I’m sure that is number one priority on their list (stopping Henry) finding every way to do that which just means Ryan Tannehill is going to have to step up. He does have some extra weapons this time around. The only way you can beat this Titans team is to take Derrick Henry out of the picture but that is really easier said than done,” said Wolfson. “You need to have more than one guy at the ball, have to have gang tackling there, it’s going to be an interesting dilemma because you have to pay so much attention to him and that opens things up for Ryan Tannehill. The key for Tannehill is to just take care of the ball. It comes down to Derrick Henry.”
For what it’s worth, the oddmakers see the Ravens as favorites entering the game, making them just one of two road teams to be listed as favorites in the Wild Card round along with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against Washington.
Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. Eastern time from Nissan Stadium in Nashville.