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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WILDCARD
December 31, 2003
Playoff Ticket
Saturday
Sunday
4:30 PM, ABC at Ravens Stadium
1:00 PM, FOX at Lambeau Field
8:00 PM, ABC at Ericsson Stadium
4:30 PM, CBS at RCA Dome
   
Tennessee at Baltimore  
  Tennessee Rush Catch Pass
QB Steve McNair 20 0 230,2
RB Eddie George 40 10 0
TE Frank Wycheck 0 30 0
TE Erron Kinney 0 20,1 0
WR Derrick Mason 0 60,1 0
WR Justin McCareins 0 50 0
WR Drew Bennett 0 40 0
  Baltimore Rush Catch Pass
QB Anthony Wright 10 0 180,1
RB Jamal Lewis 110,1 10 0
TE Todd Heap 0 30 0
WR Travis Taylor 0 40 0
WR Frank Sanders 0 20 0
WR Marcus Robinson 0 60,1 0

Game Prediction: TEN 16, BAL 20

The Titans and Ravens meet up for the first time this season. These two opponents once shared the same division prior to realignment and the Ravens have long enjoyed dominance over the Titans. They have won the last five matchups and since the Ravens have put together a great defense a few years back, the final scores of the games have always been low - 13-12 and 16-10 were the last two games.

The complicating factor here for the Titans is that they have allowed five of their last six opponents to score at least 24 points a game. For the Ravens, five of their last six opponents have been 20 points or less and that includes four games of holding opponents to 13 points or less. Other than the one freak game against Seattle, the Ravens have allowed visitors scores of 10 (PIT), 13 (CIN), 6 (SF), 17 (JAX) and 6 (DEN).

For this game to favor the Titans, they will need to throw the ball. Steve McNair is healthier than he has been but is still not 100%. Other than the one freak game, no opponent has thrown for over 208 yards in Baltimore nor scored more than one passing touchdown. More often than not, that passing score went to a tight end.

Look for McNair to try to break this game open with the pass and since the Ravens have good cornerbacks, that will need Wycheck and Kinney to play a big part, along with George out of the backfield and potentially Calico as the long ball threat but he has fallen from favor with several drops this season.

The Ravens will run the ball as much they can. Only Edgerrin James has topped 100 yards against the Titans but both he and Mike Cloud scored two touchdowns in games against the Titans. One factor lessening the running against Tennessee has been the ability of the Titans to throw well and get an advantage on the scoreboard that takes away the run game from opponents. There were only three runners that had over 20 carries against the Titans this year and all scored at least once and gained at least 70 yards.

The Titan secondary has been much worse on the road than at home this season. They have allowed all opponents to score at least one passing touchdown except the Steelers who threw for 332 yards. The amount of passing by Wright will be a function of game situation but he should gain at least one passing score and there is yardage there if he wants to chase it.

Most of the passing scores have gone against Samari Rolle and that favors Marcus Robinson. The Titan linebackers have played fairly well against tight ends so Todd Heap will be less likely to have a big game here and Wright has not been using him much lately anyway.

Look for plenty of Raven running and good defense. The entire game hinges on how well McNair throws, and then on how well Lewis runs. This should end up a lower scoring game with a slight favor to the Ravens.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
BAL Scores
22
4
22
5
3
3
TEN Allows
17
11
18
14
28
26
BAL AP
-5
7
-4
-9
25
23
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
TEN Scores
3
28
7
4
9
13
BAL Allows
9
8
19
3
19
18
TEN AP
6
-20
12
-1
10
5
Offensive ranks = #1 gains most points, Defensive ranks = #1 allows least points
AP = Advantage Points, the net difference between a positional rank gained or allowed by the teams.
BAL
TEN
2003 Game Averages
TEN
BAL
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
174
216
Pass yards
241
197
1.5
1.2
Pass TDs
2.0
1.2
1.2
1.3
Interceptions
0.8
1.3
14
13
Rush yards
10
7
0.0
0.0
Rush TDs
0.3
0.0
---
---
RB's
---
---
155
75
Rush yards
103
98
1.3
0.8
Rush TDs
0.2
0.2
26
40
Receive yards
18
44
0.0
0.0
Receive TD's
0.2
0.0
---
---
WR's
---
---
104
144
Receive yards
176
126
1.0
0.8
Receive TD's
1.2
1.2
---
---
TE's
---
---
45
32
Receive yards
48
27
0.5
0.2
Receive TD's
0.7
0.0
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.8
1.8
Field Goals
1.5
1.8
3.3
2.5
Extra Points
2.8
1.3
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
1.5
1.3
Fumbles
0.5
1.2
1.3
0.7
Interceptions
1.2
1.2
0.5
0.5
Touchdowns
0.3
0.0
2.8
1.8
Sacks
2.0
3.0
0.0
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Tennessee (12-4)
Score Opp.
25-20 OAK
7-33 @IND
27-12 NO
30-13 @PIT
30-38 @NE
38-17 HOU
37-17 @CAR
31-7 @JAX
Week 9 BYE
30-17 MIA
10-3 JAX
38-31 @ATL
17-24 @NYJ
27-29 IND
28-26 BUF
27-24 @HOU
31-3 TB
Ravens (10-6)
Score Opp.
15-34 @PIT
33-13 CLE
24-10 @SD
10-17 KC
Week 5 BYE
26-18 @ARZ
26-34 @CIN
26-6 DEN
24-17 JAX
22-33 @STL
6-9 @MIA
44-41 SEA
44-6 SF
31-13 CIN
12-20 @OAK
35-0 @CLE
13-10 PIT

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points