1. Exploit the Titans' porous run defense.
If there's one thing the Baltimore Ravens' offense has proven it's eminently qualified to do, it's pounding the football up the gut against a weak-backed defense. Although the Ravens didn't run the football often and largely abandoned it in once they fell behind during last week's 24-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor represent a formidable tandem. They just need to be utilized to a fuller extent. Lewis was frustrated at the Ravens running a finesse offense in his opinion and wants to get more involved.
Lewis still has a score to settle with the Titans after being bottled up for 35 yards in a playoff loss two seasons ago. The Titans look extremely vulnerable against the run. They allowed 206 rushing yards in a 34-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, including 161 from former third-string runner Willie Parker. As fast as Parker is, the Titans' tackling was simply horrible.
All-Pro linebacker Keith Bulluck is questionable with a calf injury, but is expected to play. If his mobility is hampered, it could be a long day for the Titans.
A major key for the Ravens is getting gigantic defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth blocked with more than one man. He's a job that deserves two people.
Offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo struggled against Haynesworth in the
Ravens' AFC wild-card loss to the Titans in January of 2004, and didn't perform
well last week against Colts defensive tackle Larry Triplett, who recorded two
2. Take the pressure off Anthony Wright.
It's Wright's first start in two years, and expectations are probably a little too high and reflect the fan base's frustrations with injured starter Kyle Boller. Wright has the ability to throw deep and is a steadier, more experienced quarterback than Boller. That doesn't mean the team will throw caution out of the window and open things up significantly. When the Ravens do look deep or work intermediate routes, a matchup they'll probably find to their liking is former Titans standout Derrick Mason against an old practice foil: cornerback Andre Woolfook, who's starting his fifth game against a two-time Pro Bowl selection who led all NFL receivers with 96 receptions last season.
3. Tackle Chris Brown
Brown is a strong, swift running back who reminds many observers of a younger Eddie George. Besides gritty veteran quarterback Steve McNair, he's the key to the Titans' offense. He rushed for 63 yards on only 11 carries last week, including a 35-yard run. Brown had a strong game against Ray Lewis two years ago, and shouldn't be intimidated by the Ravens' celebrity middle linebacker.
4. Generate a pass rush and turnovers.
The Ravens didn't produce a sack or a turnover last week. Terrell Suggs' back has improved, but the Ravens will need a lot better effort from their defensive line and situational pass rusher Peter Boulware this week. They barely laid a glove on Peyton Manning, who was only knocked down once. Plus, the secondary needs to catch the football after costly drops from Chris McAlister and Ed Reed last week.
5. Convert field goals.
Veteran kicker Matt Stover cost the Ravens nine points last week on three misses, but believes he's figured out the problem. The third-most accurate kicker in NFL history said he was rushing his delivery. Stover is a technician who will likely correct his mistakes today. For an offense that struggles to capitalize in plus-territory with touchdowns, they desperately need Stover's scoring. These games are almost always close. Ten points is the total margin of victory for the past three meetings.
In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.
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