Ravens vs. Titans: Tennessee’s causes for concern in Week 11

Mike Moraitis
·4 min read

The Tennessee Titans are on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs are concerned, but they’ll have an opportunity to improve their positioning in Week 11 versus the Baltimore Ravens.

As it stands now, the Ravens are in the seventh and final playoff spot, with the Titans looking up at them in the No. 9 spot. A victory for either team could have serious playoff implications down the road.

Of course, Tennessee still has multiple paths to the playoffs, as they sit in second place and own the same record as the Indianapolis Colts. Meanwhile, Baltimore is still in it in the AFC North race, but trail the Pittsburgh Steelers by 3.5 games, so their clearest path right now is through the Wild Card.

If the Titans are going to win this game and avoid the Ravens getting revenge on them for what happened in the playoffs last season, Tennessee is going to have to overcome some things in order to do so. Let’s see what they are.

Titans' offensive line

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The Titans, who are already without left tackle Taylor Lewan for the rest of the season, could potentially be down two more starters in Week 11. Left guard Rodger Saffold has been ruled out with an ankle injury, and the knee injury to center Ben Jones has held him out of practice all week. He's listed as questionable ahead of Sunday. That means we're going to see backup offensive lineman Jamil Douglas one way or the other, but it isn't clear how the Titans will handle things if both Saffold and Jones are out. This situation is quite troublesome for a Titans offense that has averaged 19.5 points per contest in its last four if you don't include the defensive touchdown in Week 9 versus the Chicago Bears. While the group upfront will have to contend with pass rushers Yannick Ngakoue and Matthew Judon, there could be a bit of a reprieve, as defensive end Calais Campbell and nose tackle Brandon Williams are doubtful.

Ravens' offense

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The Ravens' offense hasn't been quite as explosive as it was in 2019, and this unit has seen some struggles the past three weeks in particular, but writing it off completely would be foolish; this is still a very potent offense. Adding to that, the Titans will have to keep Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in check without the services of outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, and Tennessee's secondary will be without cornerback Adoree' Jackson and safety Kenny Vaccaro. The Titans are going to need exceptional efforts from outside linebackers Harold Landry and Derick Roberson to set the edge, and cornerback Breon Borders will need to keep up what has been stellar play the last two games. Do the Titans have some more tricks up their sleeve to keep Jackson at bay like they did in last year's playoffs? Perhaps, but they'll have to get it done with a defense that is no doubt worse than last year's unit.

Titans' special teams

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As we saw last week during the Titans' loss to the Indianapolis Colts, poor special teams play can completely blow up a game. And, thanks to what appears to be zero personnel adjustments, it's quite possible the same happens this week for Tennessee. It looks like punter Trevor Daniel will get another go in Week 11, even after his disastrous showing in Week 10, and even with fellow punter, Ryan Allen, on the practice squad. We've been going off about this all week and no amount of success by Daniel can change how badly this has been handled. Adding to that concern, Tennessee looks set to give Stephen Gostkowski another whirl instead of giving practice squad kicker Giorgio Tavecchio a look. Gostkowski has been reliable from 50-plus yards this season, but has been a mess from everywhere else. Let's just hope this contest doesn't come down to a last-second field goal. Tennessee's special teams concerns go beyond those two facets, though. The return game has been close to non-existent once again this season, and defending the return game has been even worse.