When the Titans host the Ravens on Sunday, it will mark the third time in the calendar year these teams have met – a stretch that includes two playoff match-ups.
That's about as good as it gets – rivalry-wise – for two teams that don't play in the same division.
The Titans won last year's divisional playoff contest between the teams to advance to the AFC Championship, and they beat the host Ravens again during the regular season just six weeks ago.
Can Tennessee, playing at home this time, make it three wins in a row over the Ravens?
Let's take a look at what the betting information tells us about this contest:
Moneyline – 32% of bets have been on the Titans to win
So much for precedent working in the Titans' favor, as the public so far has gone heavily on the Ravens, despite Tennessee's two victories over Baltimore since last January.
Honestly, this makes sense in a lot of ways. The Titans boast one of the league's best offenses, one that averaged just over 30 points per game. Tennessee can score regularly on the best of defenses. But the Titans also can't stop anyone, evidenced by some of these rankings – 28th overall in defense, 32nd in sack percentage, 32nd in third-down percentage and 30th in red-zone percentage. The Ravens look like a more balanced team, one that is not only ringing up points but clamping down defensively. In winning five straight games, Baltimore has averaged over 37 points per contest and given up less than 18.
Only a couple of things would give me pause: One, the Ravens played no one decent outside of Cleveland during the five-game win streak, beating Dallas, Jacksonville, the Giants and Cincinnati in the other four contests. Two, if there's one thing the Titans' defense does at least moderately well, it's stop the run. The Titans would probably prefer this match-up to one against a more pass-oriented team.
NFL Wild Card Round: Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee Titans Spread Odds
Spread – 42.2% of bets have been on the Titans +3
Only once in their five losses this season did the Titans come within three points of their opponent. In their other four defeats, the Titans lost by an average of 15 points. So if you feel confident the Titans will lose – a reasonable belief, considering the challenge of beating a good team three straight times in a calendar year – then it also makes sense to take the Ravens giving three points.
In Tennessee's losses this season, a familiar pattern developed: The opposition got off to such a great start that the Titans were forced to abandon their steady run-based offense, playing catch-up for large portions of the contest. The Ravens have outscored their opponents 118-49 in first quarters this season, 265-135 in first halves. If Baltimore gets out of the gate quickly in this one, the Titans might have difficulty staying close.
NFL Wild Card Round: Baltimore Ravens vs. Tennessee Titans Total Points Odds
Total points – 51.3% of bets have been on the game going OVER the total points line of 54.5
I don't see why the money is flowing this way at present. As mentioned, the Ravens are averaging over 37 points over the last five games, and it's not as if a weak Tennessee defense is going to shut Baltimore down.
The Titans, meanwhile, have scored at least 30 points in six of their last seven games. It's possible that bettors nationwide are putting too much stock in the Titans' last primetime appearance, which was a dud – a 40-14 loss at Green Bay in Week 16. But overall, the Titans covered the over in 12 of their 16 games this season. And in their last two games against the Ravens, the Titans have scored 30 and 28 points.
Given how shaky the Titans' defense is, we can feel pretty sure that Baltimore is not going to get cheated in the points department either.
|Team||ML Odds||Point Spread|
|Baltimore Ravens||-175||-3 (-113)|
|Tennessee Titans||+160||+3 (+108)|