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Ravens-Titans Week 9: Three Key Matchups

November 3, 2017
WHO: Baltimore Ravens (4-4) at Tennessee Titans (4-3)
WHERE: Nissan Stadium
WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 5, 1 p.m. EDT

The Ravens look to carry the momentum from their 40-0 rout of the Miami Dolphins Oct. 26 into their final game before the bye week. Quarterback Joe Flacco has practiced all week after suffering a concussion during the Dolphins game, and the Ravens expect to have their top three receivers on the field again for the first time in four weeks.

Here are three key matchups to watch as the Ravens face their one-time division rival and hope to take a winning record into their bye:

1. Ravens OLBs Terrell Suggs, Matt Judon vs. Titans QB Marcus Mariota

Suggs and Judon will be the outside linebackers tasked most often with containing Titans dangerous, dual-threat quarterback. Suggs leads the Ravens with 4.5 sacks, while Judon has two. The outside linebackers need to generate some pressure, but they also must set the edge and avoid getting sucked inside by fakes, which would allow the fleet-footed Mariota to get around the corner. 

Mariota has been slowed by a hamstring injury this year, which has cut down on his running (three carries for 8 yards in the past two games), but he is rested and healthy coming off a bye week. He's an accurate thrower, an elusive scrambler and can take a simple read-option keeper and go the distance, as he did for 34 yards against the Houston Texans earlier this season. 

"He's a special talent, especially with the run-pass option," Suggs said. "There are very few quarterbacks who can pull that off, and he's one of them."

2. Ravens CBs Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr vs. Titans WR Corey Davis

Smith and Carr have been two of the Ravens' most consistent defensive players this season. Smith leads all NFL cornerbacks in defensive passer rating (24.5), according to Pro Football Focus, and he had one of the Ravens' two interception returns for a touchdown against the Dolphins. Carr leads the Ravens in interceptions (three). 

Davis, the No. 5 overall draft pick from Western Michigan, has missed the past five games with a hamstring injury, but coming off the bye week, he has been a full practice participant and figures to give a spark to a Titans passing game that ranks 26th overall. Davis had six catches for 69 yards during his NFL debut in Week 1 before being injured in Week 2.

"He made some catches [against Oakland] we have not had around here in a while," Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said.

3. Ravens G James Hurst vs. Titans DL Jurrell Casey

The Ravens want to establish the run with Alex Collins, who continues to lead the league in yards per carry (6.0). It will be up to the Ravens' offensive linemen to win battles at the point of attack, especially if the Ravens are without tight end Nick Boyle, a strong blocker who has been bothered this week by a toe injury.

Casey has been named to the Pro Bowl for two straight seasons and has 35 career sacks. The Titans rank 10th in rushing defense, allowing 100.1 yards a game. 

Prediction

The Ravens have been so wildly inconsistent it's hard to get a read on which team will show up. Their top receivers should all be on the field again, but it's hard to discount the Ravens' inconsistency on offense this season. Plus, the Ravens will be facing their toughest opposing quarterback in a while in Mariota, and the Titans are coming off a bye week. That bodes well for the home team. Titans 20, Ravens 16.

Follow Bo on Twitter @bsmolka    

Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox