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Titans vs Ravens Opening Line Favors Baltimore by 3.5 Points

Kevin Allen

by Kevin Allen in NFL Football

Jan 3, 2021 · 6:54 PM PST

Derrick Henry Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) carries the ball during an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)
  • The Tennessee Titans (11-5) are 3.5-point underdogs against the Baltimore Ravens, even though Tennessee beat the Houston Texans 41-38 to win the AFC South title
  • This is a rematch of last year’s playoff meeting, won by Tennessee 28-12 to advance to the AFC title game
  • See opening odds, team overviews, and a prediction about how the line will move

The Tennessee Titans (11-5) beat the Houston Texans 41-38 on a last-second field to win their first division title since 2008. That earns them a home game in the first round of the playoffs, but not an easy opponent.

The Titans are 3.5-point underdogs against the Baltimore Ravens (11-5) for their Wild Card Weekend meeting.

These two teams are the NFL’s top two rushing squads this season. Baltimore averages 191.3 yards per game and Tennessee, led by the league’s leading rusher Derrick Henry,  nets 168.1 yards. On Sunday, Henry rushed for 250 yards to become the eighth NFL player to gain more than 2,000 yards in a season. He finished with 2,023.

The Ravens, meanwhile, produced their own milestone Sunday against Cincinnati, becoming only the fifth NFL team to rush for more than 400 yards in a game. Their total was 403.

Ravens vs Titans Opening Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Total
Baltimore Ravens -176 -3.5 (-110) N/A
Tennessee Titans +148 +3.5 (-110) N/A

Odds taken Jan. 3 at FanDuel

Titans Need To Step Up Defensively

Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill made things happen offensively for the Titans all season. He never received enough credit for his performance. He threw 33 touchdown passes.  That’s seven more than Lamar Jackson.

Henry posted 10 games in which he rushed for more than 100 yards, including three games in which he topped the 200-yard mark. He a consistent force, and the Titans’ rushing game was often dominant.

But here’s why the Ravens are favored in this game:  only three teams gave up more yards per game this season than the Titans. By contrast, the Ravens were a  top-10 team in terms of giving up the fewest yards to opponents.

Ravens Give Titans Reasons to Worry

In November, the Ravens, beset by COVID-19 cases and injuries, didn’t look like a playoff team. The Ravens lost four out of five and scored 30 or more points only once in that stretch

What has been clear about the Ravens for more than a month is that the team was coming together at the right time. They finished the season with five consecutive wins and won four of those games by 14 points or better.

In three of their last five games, they had at least one 100-yard rusher.  On Sunday, Jackson reminded everyone how dangerous he can be by throwing three touchdown passes and rushing for 113 yards to become the first NFL quarterback with two 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

Ravens Have Help Coming

The Ravens reported no serious injuries coming out of their game against Cincinnati. Plus, cornerback Jimmy Smith (shoulder) and  defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (thigh) will be ready to play against Tennessee.

Ngakoue has eight sacks and four forced fumbles this season. The Ravens are less dangerous defensively without him.

Spotlight Game Could Squeeze Odds

Jackson’s dynamic nature might be the difference between this game being a toss-up and the Ravens having the 3.5-point edge. The Ravens have been impressive down the stretch, but there is considerable interest in this game because of the uniqueness of both teams featuring strong running games. You don’t see that often in the pass-happy NFL.  Henry’s rushing impact will be heavily analyzed this week and that could temporarily move the line a half-point in Tennessee’s direction. But ultimately, bettors will pick Jackson over Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill. That will keep the line where it is.

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