The Baltimore Ravens start their playoff campaign and they should get a big win over the Titans with Lamar Jackson once again leading the way, says Dave Gray.
"Lots of players have been labelled as dual threat, but none have ever been quite as much of a threat as Jackson as both a passer and a rusher."
Tennessee Titans @ Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, 01:15 GMT
Live on Sky Sports Action and Main Event
Ravens offence unstoppable?
The Ravens phenomenal season has been built around the incredible play of the soon to be MVP Lamar Jackson. The second year quarterback is doing things that have never been seen in the NFL before.
His rushing has got a lot of the headlines as he broke Michael Vick's single season record for a quarterback. But he is quietly leading the league in passing touchdowns with 36 and has thrown just six interceptions. Lots of players have been labelled as dual threat, but none have ever been quite as much of a threat as Jackson as both a passer and a rusher.
The Ravens have faced some very good defences this season. They went up against five of the six best defences (not including the Ravens themselves) in the league in the regular season so there can be no suggestion that they have just been beating up bad teams. John Harbaugh and his coaches have built an offence that is seemingly unstoppable.
If you commit to stopping the run then they can get you through the air. If you try and stop Jackson passing then he will beat you with his legs. The Titans defence have some talent but they aren't one of the better defences in the NFL. It is hard to believe that they will be the ones to finally stop Baltimore.
Mark Ingram arrived at Baltimore in the offseason and has become one of the leaders in this young offence. His veteran presence has had a big influence on this team and he looks set for a big playoff run who will perhaps end in a first ring to go along with his College National Championship and Heisman Trophy.
Tannehill needs to be at his best
It is hard to believe that the Titans entered these playoffs with one of the best offences in the league. If you went back to the early part of the season, when Marcus Mariota was struggling to do anything at all and the run game was fine but was the only thing they had, then you may struggle to believe the Titans would have won six games, let alone be playing in the divisional round.
The switch at quarterback to Ryan Tannehill, who was acquired in an offseason trade with little going the other way, sparked this offence and the whole team to go on a superb run to end the season and sneak into the playoffs. There is an argument it was helped by a soft second half schedule but the improvements were obvious.
Last week's game against the Patriots ended in a seven point win, but other than Derrick Henry they struggled. Tannehill had just 72 yards through the air and he won't get away with that against the Ravens. If they are going to pull off the big upset then he is going to have to play perhaps the best game of his career. Jackson and co. are going to put up points, it just comes down to if the Titans can keep up.
It is impossible to look at the Titans offence and not talk about Henry. There may be others that are better pass catchers and perhaps all round backs around the league, but as a runner Henry is as good as it gets. He just runs defenders over all game long.
The big thing when watching Henry is that he seems to get as much as possible out of every run. When comparing with Sony Michel in last week's game, Michel gets what is there for him. Henry on the other hand always seems to get those extra two or three yards that make it so much easier for the rest of the offence. The Patriots have perhaps the best defence in the league and they could barely even slow him down. The Ravens do have a good run defence, but Henry should still get his yards. The big question is whether that is enough for the Titans. He had 182 yards last week but the Tennessee offence put up just 13 points.
Ravens have too much firepower
The Ravens defence struggled a little early on, but since they made a trade for Marcus Peters they have really gone from strength to strength. He has made them into one of the best secondaries in the league and one that will cause Tannehill problems if he doesn't turn up with his A game.
The Titans defence has some strengths, or at least some strong players. But overall they are probably the weakest unit in this game. The secondary can be beaten and are particularly susceptible to play action - an obvious strength of a team with the Ravens run game.
It is just really hard to envisage a game where the Titans defence can hold the Ravens under 30 points. By contrast, Baltimore are more than capable of holding Tennessee in check. I think the Ravens win this and win it big. A spread of 9.5 points is big but it isn't close to the number I would want to take Mike Vrabel's team here.
Dave Gray's Regular Season NFL 2019/20 P/L