For the Cincinnati Bengals and the rest of the AFC North, beating the Ravens has been difficult but the Titans provided a blueprint to come away with a victory.
Not many teams figured out the Baltimore Ravens in 2019. The offense led by reigning MVP Lamar Jackson averaged over 33 points per game. For the Cincinnati Bengals and the rest of the division that doesn’t wear purple, finding a way to contain Baltimore’s offense is a must in 2020.
To do that, the Ravens three losses from last year are the best thing to look at for now. There isn’t much for other teams to learn from in Baltimore’s two regular-season defeats. One was to the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs. There is only one Patrick Mahomes out there and no one can do some of the things he can.
The other regular-season loss was to an AFC North foe, but it was the football equivalent of a blind squirrel finding a nut. Week 4 in Baltimore was the only time last year where Cleveland’s talent on paper translated to its full potential on the field. There are not many rosters with Cleveland’s level of talent. Even some of those that have it, don’t know how to use it. The Browns themselves fall into this box most of the time. Week 4 last year was the exception, not the rule.
For the Bengals and the rest of the AFC North, Tennessee’s upset win in the playoffs is something to look to for inspiration.
The Titans lost most of the statistical battles that night but won by 16 points. What they did was beautiful in its simplicity. Running back Derrick Henry is the best thing the Titans have. They used their ground game and some timely throws from Ryan Tannehill to get an early lead.
This forced the MVP to sit in the pocket and throw to bring his team back. He isn’t capable of that yet. The early deficit meant Jackson threw 59 times and barely completed half of those tosses. That won’t get it done. Additionally, Jackson had two interceptions.
On the other side, the early lead meant the Titans could give Henry 30 carries for nearly 200 yards and the defense could be comfortable in “bend but don’t break mode”.
Tannehill threw for less than 100 yards in the game. That won’t win often. Still, Joe Mixon, Nick Chubb, and James Connor are all bell-cow runners capable of controlling the game the way Henry did. It put Jackson and the offense in an uncomfortable spot. Every Raven’s opponent with a legit stud running back should try and do the same until further notice.