The Ravens will be out for revenge when the Titans come to Baltimore on Nov. 22 for a tilt with the team that knocked them out of the playoffs a year ago.
Tennessee fell in the AFC Championship Game to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs a week later, but not before ending the season of the league’s best regular-season team.
In that game, the Ravens not only uncharacteristically made offensive mistake after mistake, they never were able to stop running back Derrick Henry.
The league’s leading rusher from a year ago with 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season, Henry never let the Ravens get back into the game in last year’s divisional round.
Despite the fact that Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw for just 88 yards — 45 of which came on one play — on 14 attempts, Henry carried the weight of the offense. He rushed for 195 yards on 30 carries and even threw a touchdown pass as the Ravens' season slipped away with each broken Henry tackle.
The aftermath of that game, as it relates to the Ravens’ offseason, cannot be overstated.
Baltimore added defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe, drafted two more in Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington Jr. and also drafted two inside linebackers in the first three rounds: Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison.
While that lone game wasn’t responsible for the overhaul, it’s clear the Ravens weren’t too fond of the image of Henry running freely through their defense.
There won’t be much else to learn about Henry or the Ravens’ front seven when this game rolls around, but it’s still the most intriguing matchup to look forward to from this game.
Tale of the tape
Henry, who beat up the Ravens’ front seven last season, really only has had two years of top-notch NFL production. He led the league in rushing in 2019 and rushed for 1,059 yards in 2018, but averaged just 4.2 and 4.5 yards per carry, respectively, in the previous two seasons.
A reason for his success against the league last year is his size. The 26-year-old is 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds, a terrifying player to bring down for any undersized linebacker or defensive back.
In the Ravens’ rehaul of the defensive front, they made sure to make themselves bigger. Campbell and Wolfe are the biggest of the bunch at 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-5, respectively. Campbell weighs 300 pounds while Wolfe weighs 285.
Madubuike is 6-foot-3 and 293 pounds, while Washington is 6-foot-3 and 304 pounds. The Ravens front seven will look quite different, and much beefier, than it did last January.
The Titans lost Jack Conklin to the Ravens’ AFC North rival in Cleveland this free agency period, but replaced him with Georgia tackle Isaiah Wilson, the 29th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Tennessee’s offensive line is still massive, as the 6-foot-7 Taylor Lewan and 6-foot-6 Wilson will likely patrol both tackle positions. The interior of the line is no smaller than 6-foot-3, meaning the Ravens and Titans will be in for a physical battle in the trenches.
The Ravens’ front seven, as previously mentioned, got a lot bigger in the offseason, As for how much better remains to be seen, but it could be boosted by the additions of Queen and Harrison.
Queen is a rangy linebacker that can play in coverage and Harrison is a bigger body that can fit the run well. If they’re able to play in the box together, the Ravens can get as many members of their talented secondary on the field as they can and stack the box against Henry and the Titans.
Who has the edge?
It’s close, considering last year’s outcome, but for now it’s the Ravens.
With the Ravens’ additions in the front seven, they’ve addressed the weakest part of their roster in a big way. If they’re able to play the game as they want, they’ll play from ahead — meaning Henry won’t be as big of a factor.
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