Every year, by the time Week 11 rolls around in the NFL, there are a few things football fans can count on – playoff pictures formulating, injuries mounting, and the words ‘must-win’ suddenly attaching themselves to certain games.
While the forecast in Baltimore is not calling for snow on Sunday, this weekend’s contest between the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens certainly holds playoff implications. Some fans on each side are also labeling Sunday as a must-win opportunity.
The playoff picture through Week 10! pic.twitter.com/P7sXcwiqxk
— NFL (@NFL) November 19, 2020
The Titans trudge into Baltimore having lost three of their last four games, including their most recent embarrassment on Thursday Night Football against the Colts. The Ravens were also shown up on national television in Week 10 after suffering a tough loss on the road to one of the worst New England Patriots teams the 21st century has seen.
With the Titans’ clunker in the rearview and fans beginning to scour Amazon for deals on pitchforks, a win on Sunday would lift some of the pressure and quiet much of the noise surrounding Head Coach Mike Vrabel and his team.
The Titans will have had 10 days to reflect on their shortcomings against the divisional rival Colts before taking the field in Baltimore. Including season openers, Vrabel has posted an impressive 7-1 record with 10 or more days to prepare for an opponent since being hired by Tennessee in 2018.
#Titans on 10 or more days to prepare under Mike Vrabel (including openers):
L 27-20 at MIA (2018 opener)
W 28-14 at DAL
W 17-0 at NYG
W 43-13 at CLE
W 24-10 at ATL
W 42-20 vs JAX
W 16-14 at DEN
W 42-16 vs BUF
They really need to continue that trend this Sunday.
— Mike Herndon (@MikeMiracles) November 17, 2020
Banged Up Baltimore
The extra rest comes at a convenient time for the Titans, who have been battling the injury bug all season. However, it is the Ravens that enter Week 11’s showdown as the more banged up side.
Ravens injuries tonight …
That's on top of …
Every team has it's tipping point
— Sarah Ellison (@sgellison) November 16, 2020
The Ravens’ defensive line is shaping up to be an area of vulnerability that the Titans could exploit this weekend. The anchor to Baltimore’s defensive line is Calais Campbell. Campbell missed Sunday’s loss to New England with a calf injury that could also sideline him for this week’s matchup with Tennessee. The five-time Pro Bowl defensive end is highly thought of throughout league circles and is always in the conversation for being one of the best run stoppers in the NFL.
Not only could the Ravens be without Campbell, but 2018 Pro Bowler Brandon Williams left the Patriots game with an ankle injury of his own. Neither Campbell or Williams have been able to give it a go in practice this week and their statuses for Sunday are questionable.
The @Ravens are working with a limited pool of defensive linemen for the Tennessee game as of now. Assuming Campbell and Williams are unable to go, they'll have:
Ellis, Madubuike, Washington, and Wolfe plus practice squad DT Aaron Crawford, who is protected. #RavensFlock
— Ken McKusick (@FilmstudyRavens) November 17, 2020
If the Ravens are without two key starters on the defensive side of the ball, that could leave opportunities for Tennessee’s well-rested offense to make some big plays, especially on the ground.
Titans running back Derrick Henry is coming off of his second 100-yard rushing performance in his last three outings. Henry has not had the workload in recent weeks that Titans fans saw towards the end of last season. Just twice in the last six weeks has Henry carried the ball more than 20 times.
Baltimore’s loss to the Patriots came, in large part, due to their inability to establish themselves against the run. Without Campbell able to suit up, the Ravens’ 11th ranked rush defense allowed Patriots running back Damien Harris to scurry for 121 yards on 22 carries.
— Sal From Jerrrssseeeyyy (@salmanfredi) November 16, 2020
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, there might be enough meat on the bone left over for Henry to truly feast in his pilgrimage to Baltimore.
Featured image courtesy of Associated Press/Julio Cortez