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BroncoAV06
01-08-2009, 10:35 PM
Saturday 4:30pm EST CBS
#6 Baltimore at #1 Tennessee

Smash mouth football is on the slate for this weekends contest between the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans. Each team will come out of their corner swinging hey makers in the forms of defense. The Ravens have found a nice grove as the #6 seed, their defense is being compared to the 2000 Super Bowl winning unit, and the offense lead by Joe Flacco and company is doing just enough to keep up the pace. The Titans on the other hand have flown under the radar a bit for a #1 seed after their 1st round bye and sluggish finish to the season. RB Chris Johnson is not at a lose for words and attention however with his comments a week ago stating that he, not Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan should have been rookie of the year, (251att-1,228yds-9TD's, 43 rec-260yds-1 TD). C.J. is going to have to be a steeler rookie this weekend in Nashville as the Titans face the fierce Ravens D.

When the Titans Have the Ball:
Not expecting a lot of offense in this match-up. Tennessee's bread and butter is the run game, Smash and Dash combined for 2,001 yards and 24 TD's on the season, while Kerry Collins has kept the ball away from the opposing team (7 INT's) and tried to keep the defenses honest (12 TD's).. TE Bo Scaife was the main target for Collins this season with 58 rec, and the Ravens know this and are ready. Earlier today (Thursday) on PTI Ravens LB Bart Scott said that in the first meeting between these teams in the regular season ( BAL 10 TEN 13) they did not realize how important Scafie was in the Titans offensive game plan and that this weekend they will be ready. Not to good to hear when the second leading receiver in terms of receptions is RB Chris Johnson with 43, on a team that's lacked a threat at wide-out since Derek Mason. Tennessee has a good combo to attack and pound the Ravens D but with center Kevin Mawae out Baltimore should be able to bring multiple looks up to the line putting pressure on back up Leroy Harris to make the right line calls before the snap. The Titans are going to need some sort of big play from the pass and or screen game to spark them. But we saw what happened last week when a team not used to making plays through the air is forced to (4 Chad Pennington INT's). Tennessee can not afford any turnovers if they wish to win this game.

Advantage: Ravens Defense. They are rolling, Ed Reed is a football magnet, and that LB core will not let this defense lack intensity or not be ready for what ever Tennessee will throw at them.

When the Ravens Have the Ball:
As discussed last week Baltimore is lead by Le'Ron McClain and Willis McGahee. A run first offense against the Titans 6th ranked rush defense (93.9yds/g). Tennessee will have two huge pieces back in DT Albert Haynesworth and DE Kyle Vanden Bosh to help plug the middle and counter the pounding that Baltimore will look to hand out on the ground. While Albert might not be 100% coming back from the knee injury he and Vanden Bosh should still prove to be enough to force Baltimore to the air a few more times then they would like to make some plays. Pro Bowl CB Cortland Finnegan will be all over Flacco's favorite target wide-out Derek Mason who had four of Flacco's nine completions last week against the Dolphins, meaning Joe is going to have to expand his vision and look for TE Todd Heap or WR Mark Clayton for some plays. Troy Smith will also see a few snaps behind center to try and spice things up with some draws and a trick play or two. But still the Ravens will find it hard sledding on offense.

Advantage: Tennessee Defense. Set the tone for the Titans all season. No rookie QB has ever won two playoff games and Joe Flacco has not exactly light up the world as of late, he just has not imploded either. Titans at home will hold their own.

So Where Will This Game Be Decided?
3rd downs. It is going to be very important for either offense to sustain what they can of their drives. The punters are sure to get a work out and it could be a very long day if it is a three and out contest. Baltimore is converting 41% of the time on third down while they are holding opponents to 33%. Tennessee converts on 36% of theirs and the opponents 35% of the time. Why is this so important? With extended drives it means more of a chance to put points on the board or at least get in field goal range. Both teams have top notch kickers, Rod Bironas and his booming leg for the Titans and the ever efficient Matt Stover for the Birds. Points will be at a premium and these two can put them up.

Game Changers:
Last Week I went with S Ed Reed for the Raves, the defense is sure to leave its mark on this game but my game changer this week for Baltimore is TE Todd Heap. Quite season, bugged by injuries, but he can catch the ball and Mason is sure to be blanketed. A few receptions across the middle, couple red zone targets and a possible TD, huge game breakers for the Ravens offense if Flacco can locate Heap over the middle.
TE Todd Heap #86
Super Sleepers: KR Yamon Figures/Tom Zbikowski

RB Chris Johnson #28
The best player on offense for the Titans. They are going to have to find some way to get C.J. into space to use his ability and speed to make big plays. White better be ready to pound some yards out ahead of C.J. Tennessee like I said is going to need a big play to get them over the top.
Sleeper: WR Justin Gage

Conclusion:
The Titans are a solid football team and are sure to match blows with the Ravens. But what leads me to choose Baltimore is the defense's ability to score after forcing a turnover (They have sucked me into the hype this week). FG's, a rushing TD and a big play on defense is how I see the scoring going. So edge Ravens. Joe Flacco wins his 2nd playoff game and the defense sets itself up for a chance to be forever compared to the 200 squad.

BAL 20 TEN 9

Medford Bronco
01-08-2009, 10:36 PM
Excellent write up BroncoAv and I like your score as well.

My pick is a little closer

Ravens 23 Titans 17 but I will take any win that I can get.

I would love to see a smashmouth AFC Championship game of
Balt at Pitt. That would be a fun defensive battle.

mdmnore88
01-09-2009, 03:43 PM
Goooo ravens!!

BroncoAV06
01-10-2009, 08:21 PM
Rapid Reaction:

BAL 13 TEN 10

This indeed was a smashmouth football game. Ray Lewis vs Amahd Hall in the 2nd qtr was just one example of the helmet bashing that was going on in this game. Both teams came out with thier ground games, the Ravens doing as much as a Flacco QB sneak on a 3rd and 2 early in the 1st qtr. Defenses were of course the story of the game. The Titans absolutly shut down every aspect of the Ravens offense, 211 total yards on the day. But Joe Flacco made plays when it counted going an average 11/22, 161 yards and a big TD to of course his favorite target Derek Mason. Kerry Collins on the other hand had a decent day through the air, 26/42, 281 yds and 1 INT.

1st Half
Yet again the Ravens defense steps up to the plate and swings the momentum.
-Ravens pin the Titans at their own 2 yard line, Titans pull off some great plays to move the ball all the way to mid field, Collins looks to go deep down the middle and the ball floats over the intended reciver and CB Samari Rolle comes down with the INT.
-Tennessee was driving late in the 2nd qtr getting ready to go up 14-7 at the half which would have been a back breaker for Baltimore but instead White is hit and fumbles with 27 secs remaning allowing the Ravens to kneel and take the game 7-7 into the half.

The turnovers where crtical because the Titans outgained Baltimore 245 to 94 in the first half getting some very nice palys from Chris Johnson, and should of indeed been leading at the half.

2nd Half
3rd Qtr was a battle for field position with the punters getting plenty of work.
4th Qtr Titans defense holds the Ravens to a FG after a big catch by wide out Mark Clayton put the Ravens inside the 5 and gave them a 1st and goal. BAL 10 TEN 7 early 4th QTR

-Titans respond with a nice drvie after the FG moving the ball down the field. Collins finds TE A. Crumpler and as he moves inside the 10 he is meet by two Ravens causing him to fumble the ball and Baltimore recovers. Again the Titans leave points on the field not being able to hold onto the ball.

The Titans would respond with a FG to tie it with under 4 mins to go but that proved to be enough time for the Ravens and Joe Flacco to respond. 9 plays, for 51 yards starting at 3:30 left in the fourth and ending with a Matt Stover 43 yard FG with jsut 57 seconds left on the clock.

Titans last ditch efforts come up short on a Kerry Collins pass on 4th and 5 and the Baltimore story rolls on to face the winner of the Chargers/Steelers match-up tomorrow. Rookie QB Joe Flacco becomes the 1st rookie to win two playoff games as well today.

Game Changers:
TE Todd Heap
Not heard from all game as again Derek Mason is the leading man for Baltimore (5 rec, 78 yds, 1 TD). But Heap made an impact indeed late in the 4th qtr. With the play clock running down (actually ran out for 1-2 secs but refs did not catch it) its 3rd down FLacco unleashes a lasser down the middle betwee 2-3 defenders and Heap brings it in for a 23 yard reception to the TEN 45 leading to the game winning FG a few plays later.
Super Sleepers: Return game did not get many loks on kick offs, few punt returns palyed roles in field positions.

RB Chirs Johnson
Johnson indeed made an impact early. Early in the 1st qtr the Titans got the ball to him in space on a screen play and Johnson took it 28 yards to the Baltimore 37. The drive would eventualy end in the Titans only TD an 8 yard score by CJ. Also had a 32 yard run to end the 11st qtr. Johnson's quickness enabled him to find yards on teh cut back against the Ravens defense which lead to the early success and total yard advantage in the first half. However C.J. would end up turing his ankle late in the 2nd qtr putting a huge damper on the Titans offense taking away their best weapon. White had a few moments but with CJ the 2nd half cold have been a diffferent story.
1st half stats: (11 att, 72yds, 1 TD/1 rec, 28 yards)
Super Sleeper:
WR Justin Gage (10 rec 135 yards)

Broncolingus
01-10-2009, 08:25 PM
Way to choke it TEN...

Oh, well...still

http://c.myspace.com/Groups/00003/27/48/3558472_l.gif

Nomad
01-10-2009, 08:40 PM
Excellent write up BroncoAv and I like your score as well.

My pick is a little closer

Ravens 23 Titans 17 but I will take any win that I can get.

I would love to see a smashmouth AFC Championship game of
Balt at Pitt. That would be a fun defensive battle.

Looking forward to the Steelers/Ravens! I don't give the Chargers a chance!

Requiem / The Dagda
01-10-2009, 08:55 PM
What a wonderful football game. I wish our defense had half the heart these two teams displayed today.

Medford Bronco
01-11-2009, 09:34 AM
What a wonderful football game. I wish our defense had half the heart these two teams displayed today.

The Ravens just proved how overrated yardage is.

It is about pts scored and causing turnovers for your offense.


I have loved this playoff season with them and hope they smoke whomever wins today next week.

Northman
01-11-2009, 12:07 PM
Excellent game, even the Cardinals blowout was a nice surprise.

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