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NFL: Ravens might have the toughest matchup of Divisional Playoff Weekend

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NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry (1,540 yards) owns staggering averages of 163 total yards and 1.6 TDs in his last seven games.

On the surface, the 14-2 Ravens bear the look of a Super Bowl juggernaut, incapable of falling to a non-division winner before the championship round.

**No. 1 in scoring offense (33.2 points per game)
**No. 3 in scoring defense (176. ppg)
**Nine wins of double-digit points
**Twelve straight victories

**Surrendering 20-plus points only twice since mid-October

But when hearkening back to Baltimore’s amazing season, the defense incurred some difficulties with versatile quarterbacks and power-running games — in other words, skill-set traits that would also apply to Titans QB Ryan Tannehill and tailback Derrick Henry.

Technically, Tannehill (2,742 yards passing, 26 total TDs, 6 INTs; 10-3 asa the Titans’ starter) never cleared 45 rushing yards this season. But he was a great scrambler during crunch time, and an excellent finisher around the goal line (four rushing scores).

And the only thing that could slow down Henry — the NFL rushing champion (1,540 yards) — was a December hamstring injury … and even that was a mere inconvenience.

Charting his last seven games (including Wild Card Weekend), Henry boasts otherworldly averages of 163 total yards and 1.6 touchdowns.

Digging deeper, Henry’s 211-yard, three-TD effort against the Texans clinched the league rushing crown in Week 17, eclipsing the seasonal work of Cleveland’s Nick Chubb — the same Chubb who steamrolled the Ravens for 165 rushing yards and three scores back in September.

MISSION IMPLAUSIBLE

On the other side of the ball … Tennessee finished 12th overall in scoring defense, but that figure can be a tad deceiving:

The Panthers, Chiefs and Saints all cleared 30 points versus the Titans. But for the other 14 outings (including Wild Card Weekend), Tennessee surrendered just 16.7 points per week.

So, how will the Titans address Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, this season’s presumptive NFL MVP? Is there even a template for such a daunting assignment?

Let’s see … against opposing quarterbacks, the Titans ranked:

**12th in sacks
**21st in rushing yards allowed
**Tied for 5th in QB rushing TDs surrendered
**Tied for 17th in passing touchdowns allowed
**28th in completions given up
**26th in passing yards allowed

Digging deeper … here’s how the Titans fared against above-average mobile QBs:

@ BUF — Josh Allen: 23 of 32 for 219 yards passing, 2 TDs, 1 INT … 10 carries for 27 yards (Titans prevail, 14-7)

vs. KC — Patrick Mahomes: 36 of 50 for 446 yards, 3 TDs … zero yards rushing (Titans win, 35-32)

vs. HOU — Deshaun Watson: 19 of 27 for 243 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs … 7 carries for 32 yards (Titans lost, 24-21)

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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