Titans win in Foxborough
The Tennessee Titans will be traveling to M&T bank stadium this Saturday at 8 PM to take on the prolific Ravens in the AFC Divisional Round. The Titans have peaked at the right time as they took on the very experienced Patriots Dynasty. The game was within reach by the Patriots who were down only by a point with a few minutes remaining. After being pinned inside their own territory, Tom Brady was picked off and that interception returned for a touchdown leaving the game 20-13. What stole the show is how unstoppable Derrick Henry has been as of late. With 35 carries, 186 yards, and a touchdown he was the highlight of the game. Henry averaged over 5 yards per carry allowing a lot of the game to be controlled by him, relieving Ryan Tannehill from passing through the Patriots formidable pass defenders. With Tom Brady falling short and potentially playing his last snap for the Patriots, the Titans have theirs eyes on keeping the streak going against LJ8 and company.
Resting in Baltimore
In Week 17 Coach Harbaugh elected to rest key starters as the final game of the season was irrelevant to their playoff run. This gave an opportunity to give Mark Andrews and Mark Ingram, who both are nursing an ankle injury, among others to have some much needed rest before their super bowl push. However with the starters sitting out not only week 17 and not having a game in the wild card weekend, they will be going nearly 3 weeks without participating in a football game. The concern comes around not being in their zone and being sloppy without playing. This might lead to a playoff upset. We will take a look at a few examples in playoff history on sitting players.
There’s a few teams that did not come out the gate well after resting their players at the end of the season.
With the Cowboys resting rookies Zeke and Dak a majority of week 17s game against the Eagles, they marched on to the Packers in the divisional round in 2016. The Cowboys disappeared and were a mere shell of themselves as Aaron Rodgers and company went up 21-3 early in the second quarter. The cowboys were left playing catch up the rest of the game and ultimately fell short 34-31.
The Packers started off the season red hot going undefeated for 13 straight games and locked up the number one seed in the NFC. They choose to sit key players in a week 17 game against the Detroit Lions and took on the New York Giants in a Divisional Playoff Round. After losing two fumbles and allowing a Hail Mary, the Packers couldn’t find their stride eventually falling short to Eli Manning 37-20. The Giants went on to win Super Bowl XLVI.
Andy Reid choose to sit key players such as Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, and 11 Others as they locked in the number three seed for playoffs. After losing to the Cowboys in Week 17 the Eagles played the Packers. In a close game where David Akers missed multiple field goals, Vick threw an interception closing the game 21-16. The Packers continued their streak to become Super Bowl XLV Champions.
In week 17, the Saints had an irrelevant matchup against the Carolina Panthers after they clinched home field advantage. They came into the divisional game and killed the Cardinals after putting up 45 points. They went on to beat the Vikings in an overtime thriller before beating the colts in an historic upset in Super Bowl XLIV.
After winning the AFC north the Ravens benched key players in their game against the Bengals in Week 17. The Ravens however didn’t skip a beat as they won against the Colts, Broncos, and Patriots on their way to the Super Bowl. They took on the 49ers in the Harbaugh Bowl, winning 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII.
Was it the Right Choice?
Why there are cases for both ends of arguments, there is too strong of a compelling case for the Ravens. If I’m Harbaugh and I know it’s what has worked for me in the past, why would I change what has worked for me? Especially as some of my key players have been playing banged up. Especially now that they’re matchup is against the Titans, which will be a very run heavy physical game for both parties. I think this was an opportunity for the Ravens to get themselves locked in and Harbaugh will have the team dialed for the Divisional Matchup.
Going into the game the Ravens have a 9.5 point advantage. The Titans have peaked at the right time, going into Foxborough and defeating Tom Brady in the wild card matchup. Both teams are very physical offenses. Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram have both rushes for 1000 yards this season and Derrick Henry has rushed for 1000 in just the second half of the season alone. Both of the teams will rely heavily on their run game to open up the playbook. The game ultimately will rely on Ryan Tannehill and how he performs under the Ravens defense. I expect both teams to fill the box and if this game turns into an aerial attack, I don’t think Tannehill can keep up with Lamar Jackson’s passing ability. I have this game Ravens 28-17.