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Ravens-Titans Breakdown

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Posted: Thursday January 04, 2001 2:15 PM
Updated: Friday January 05, 2001 8:35 PM

CNNSI.com NFL analyst Pat Kirwan breaks down the Divisional weekend games and explains which team has the edge.

Matchups: Offense | Defense | Special Teams | Coaching

OFFENSE
Ravens   Titans
Trent Dilfer played an efficient, mistake-free game in the win against Denver. Believe it or not, Dilfer is now 8-1 as a starter since taking over for Tony Banks. His record includes a win at Tennessee earlier this year. QB
 
Steve McNair has played hurt much of the year. This week will be no different; he's suffering from a foot injury. All the same, he has the ability to make the big play with his arm or legs. He is very dangerous on the play action and outside the pocket.
Jamal Lewis carried the load in the win vs. Denver, rushing for 110 yards on 30 carries with two touchdowns. He also gained 99 yards and scored a touchdown in the win at Tennessee in November. RB
 
Last time these two teams played, Eddie George got injured after the first series and was held to 28 yards in the loss. George has a tremendous combination of size and speed along with the ability to carry his team on his back.
Qadry Ismail and Pat Johnson have not had big seasons. The Ravens' receivers need to make plays down the field this week. Tight end Shannon Sharpe started the season slow, but finished strong, leading the team with 67 receptions. WR / TE
 
After injuries to Kevin Dyson, Yancey Thigpen and Carl Pickens, Derrick Mason stepped into the starting lineup and has had a great season (career-high 63 passes for 895 yards). Tight end Frank Wycheck continues to be McNair's favorite target. The team's leading receiver, Wycheck is also a terrific route runner and good blocker.
The Ravens' offensive line physically dominated the Broncos' D-line a week ago, but must do a better job on pass protection. LINE
 
The Titans' line does a great job opening holes for George and protecting McNair (28 sacks allowed all season).

DEFENSE
Ravens   Titans
Pro Bowl tackle Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa controlled the middle against the Broncos last week and DE Michael McCrary had three sacks. Along with Rob Burnett, the Ravens have one of the best front four in the league at stopping the run. LINE
 
DE Jevon Kearse got off to a slow start this season, but finished strong with 11 1/2 sacks. Four of his sacks came against the Ravens. The Titans use eight different linemen throughout a game.
Pro Bowl LB Ray Lewis is the physical (137 tackles) and emotional leader of this record-setting defense. Peter Boulware had six tackles and a sack in last week's game. LB
 
Offseason pickup Randall Godfrey has paid huge dividends, leading the team in tackles and bringing more speed to the Titans defense.
After giving up more than 400 yards in the air to the Jets in the last game of the regular season, the Ravens' secondary held the Broncos' potent attack to 135 yards passing. The Ravens corners do an excellent job in run support. DB
 
With two Pro Bowlers in the secondary, Samari Rolle and Blaine Bishop, it's no wonder the Titans ranked first in the league in pass defense this year.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Ravens   Titans
Kicker Matt Stover had a Pro Bowl season, and punter Kyle Richardson led the NFL with 35 kicks inside the 20-yard line. Richardson continued his accuracy last week against Denver, pinning the Broncos deep on several occasions. Ask the Jets about PR Jermaine Lewis.
 
Veteran kicker Al Del Greco had a mini slump during the season, but rebounded with a game-winner at Philadelphia. Derrick Mason is very dangerous return man.

COACHING
Ravens   Titans
Brian Billick came into last week's wild-card matchup with a plan to run the football at all costs and let his defense to win the game. As a coordinator in Minnesota, his offense set the NFL record for the most points scored. Now his defense has established the mark for fewest points allowed. His ability to adapt his coaching style to win football games is proven.

After falling a yard short in last year's Super Bowl, Jeff Fisher motivated his team to the best record in the NFL. This team is no one-year wonder.


 
Related information
Stories
CNNSI.com's Divisional Week at a Glance
CNNSI.com's NFL Divisional Games Preview
Multimedia
Ravens defensive tackle Sam Adams says two teams' histories get thrown out the window in the postseason. (70 K)
Titans running back Lorenzo Neal feels that playing the Ravens is like looking in a mirror. (92 K)
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