Usually, on Fridays, I conjure up keys to a Tennessee Titans win for the upcoming Sunday.
I still am here, but it won’t be in the usual way. I won’t dive into where the teams stand now, and the history, and all that because there is something different I want to point out: The national media.
Titans fans love to point out the disrespect from national media members. For a small market team based in good ol’ Tennessee, being disrespected and overlooked is something the Titans should be used to by now.
But, I sit here on a cold Friday afternoon watching two guys named Jalen and Jacoby on ESPN say the Ravens will win because they can stop Derrick Henry.
Even though Derrick Henry did gash them in week 11 for 133 yards. He also embarrassed them in the playoffs last year for 195 yards.
I know the past doesn’t matter, and the playoffs are a different story and all, but could you confidently say they can stop Henry?
You can choose to ignore the facts, but facts don’t lie. You are hearing more about Lamar Jackson’s “MVP run” of four games to end the season than Ryan Tannehill’s 33/7 TD/INT ratio and 3,819 yards — which are all better than Jackson, by the way.
You are hearing more about J.K. Dobbins “heating up” in the final three games versus teams with a combined record of 11-36-1 than Derrick Henry’s 2,027-yard season with 17 touchdowns.
I get it. The Ravens are getting hot. It only took a run versus teams with losing records (aside from Cleveland) to get them into the postseason. But you hear more about that than the Tennessee Titans winning their division.
All respect to Baltimore. They could very well come into Nashville on Sunday and exit with a win. By no means are the Titans a lock to win this one.
However, if you were to look at national media’s opinions, you would think the Titans don’t belong in this game.
They do, though, and they can win it. Yet, there are some critical keys to the game that needs to happen for them to come out on top.
KEY ONE: WIN KEY MOMENTS
It is an accepted fact that the Tennessee Titans defense is a monstrosity. But the playoffs provide a new season and a fresh slate to make some improvement.
One thing the defense can do, starting on Sunday, is win the key moments. Third down and red zone defense will be vital. If the defense can capitalize on those moments on Sunday, the Titans’ chances become very high.
KEY TWO: CONTAIN RUN GAME
I know earlier in this piece I said their success came versus bad teams late in the season, but still, you can’t knock a run game that’s currently ranked first in the NFL at 191.9 yards per game.
The combination of Lamar Jackson and J.K. Dobbins gives defenses fits, but you give yourself a great chance to be successful on defense if you contain that.
KEY THREE: START FAST
I had this same key last week versus Houston, but this week it is even more vital. The Ravens have a hard time winning games when they fall behind. It’s been a constant theme of the Lamar Jackson era.
The Titans, on the other hand, love playing with leads. It allows them to pound the rock with Henry and never look back. Combine that with the Ravens being mentally aware of their history versus the Titans, and you could see some spirits break once the Titans take over the game.
Look, I respect a lot of the national media members, and I respect the Ravens. This game won’t be easy, but it is one the Tennessee Titans can control. If the Titans can complete all three keys, there’s no way they aren’t advancing to the Divisional Round.
Featured image by Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports