09/18/2011 10:18 AM
Baltimore -6 over Tennessee:
With a stifling defensive effort, the Baltimore Ravens made a statement during their opening-weekend victory. The Tennessee Titans are trying not to panic after failing to move the ball with much consistency in Week 1. Baltimore tries to open 2-0 for the third time in four seasons while Tennessee hopes to regroup during Mike Munchak's home coaching debut Sunday. The Ravens, who were ousted in the playoffs last season by Pittsburgh, opened 2011 with a bang, routing the Steelers 35-7 last Sunday.
Baltimore recorded three interceptions and recovered four fumbles in a performance that resembled that of the defensive unit which led the team during its 2000 Super Bowl run. The Ravens also had four sacks - three from Terrell Suggs, who with 71 1/2 surpassed Peter Boulware for the most in franchise history. Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck knows all too well of Suggs' defensive prowess. Hasselbeck was sacked eight times in two games against Baltimore while with Seattle, including twice by Suggs during a 44-41 Ravens overtime victory Nov. 23, 2003. In his first game with Tennessee, Hasselbeck completed 21 of 34 passes for 263 yards with two touchdowns and an interception last Sunday. However, Chris Johnson, who joined the team roughly two weeks ago following a holdout, rushed for just 24 yards on nine carries as the Titans fell 16-14 at Jacksonville. On what was a quiet offensive day for the Titans, Kenny Britt shined, hauling in five passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
Tennessee, which surrendered an average of 133.0 rushing yards en route to losing nine of 10 to close last season, surrendered 323 total yards during its opener, 163 on the ground. The Titans' inability to stop the run could mean another big day for Ray Rice, who ran for 107 yards and caught four passes for another 42 against the Steelers, scoring twice. Joe Flacco also impressed, throwing for 224 yards and three TDs.
The Ravens' first priority on defense will be limiting Johnson. Offensively, the unit should continue to give the ball to Rice, who can run behind an improved offensive line and is so difficult to tackle due to his low center of gravity. Flacco targeted Anquan Boldin a team-high seven times against the Steelers, but TEs Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta could also be key against the Titans' outside linebackers and safeties. Ravens roll by double digts.