There are some things you never, ever expect to say.
These are things like: I wish my cable bill was higher. That was a really good Nicholas Cage movie. And the Titans beat the Patriots in the NFL playoffs.
The goosebumps of that monumental victory in Foxboro have vanished and the Titans are now glaring at the grim reality of facing the Ravens this Saturday night in Baltimore. The Ravens finished an NFL best 14-2 and are riding a 12-game winning streak.
QB Lamar Jackson has become the NFL’s darling and even the Vegas oddsmakers are all aboard the Ravens train, making them a 10-point favorite.
That betting line is justified considering the Ravens have outscored their last 10 opponents 347-142. That translates to an average score of about 34-14.
The Ravens didn’t play cupcakes either during that 10-game stretch. They beat playoff opponents that included the Texans, Seahawks, Patriots, 49ers and Bills.
While the Titans earned a split in two tough games with the Texans at the end of the regular season, the Ravens absolutely crushed the Texans 41-7 in mid-November. You add all this together and it’s starting to look like the Titans are going to get hit by a falling piano Saturday night.
When I texted my former college roommate, a 20-year Baltimore resident, and predicted a Titans victory, he texted back that he admires my “irrational exuberance.”
He added that the 14 points the Titans scored against the Patriots, minus the garbage-time pick-6 by the defense, will be about 20 points shy of what the Ravens score this weekend.
I admit this matchup is more “Nightmare on Elm Street” than “Mary Poppins,” but there’s a formula where the Titans can win this game. That formula is Derrick Henry.
Statistics show Baltimore has the No. 5 run defense in the NFL, but that stat is widely misleading because the Ravens have established such huge leads opponents have been forced to abandon the run.
If the Titans can keep it close, they’ve proven to be a fierce second-half team. Henry rambled for 76 second-half yards against New England – and that was with the Pats selling out to stop the run.
This may seem odd to say, but the Titans, for once, have some capable receivers in A.J. Brown, Corey Davis, Tajae Sharpe, Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser.
QB Ryan Tannehill has played spectacular football down the stretch. Just pay no attention to his 72-yard performance against the Patriots. I look for Tannehill to at least triple that yardage total on Saturday and have a sharp game throwing to receivers with a little more separation from the defense.
Of course none of this explains away how the Titans defense is going to slow Lamar & Co. If NFL coaching staffs don’t have any answers, I doubt a reporter in McMinnville is going to provide any great insight.
But I think the Titans are capable of winning a shootout. The offense averaged 30 points a game in Tannehill’s 10 regular-season starts, just a shade behind Baltimore’s league-leading 33 points per game.
Wish me luck because I’m headed to Baltimore. Go Titans!