Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens – Saturday, January 11, 2020, 8:15 p.m. EST
Over the past year, PFN has been introducing the football community to the Offensive Share Metric (OSM) – a unique way to assess skill positions as it relates to contributions made during each play. Last week, we used OSM to predict the AFC and NFC Wild Card games. Though the scoreboard results differed in all but one game, OSM was very telling in what we could expect during the game. So, let’s dive back into OSM and some NFL Next Gen Stats to provide a different vantage point for how this week’s AFC Divisional round playoff game between the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens will play out.
The Tennessee Titans shocked the world last week (well, maybe not everyone) when they defeated the New England Patriots at home in Foxboro, MA. This week, they have an even tougher matchup against the number one ranked Baltimore Ravens.
Perhaps surprising to some, Ryan Tannehill is the better passer in this game this year. Tannehill averaged an OSM of 35.2 during the regular season, compared to 25.8 for Lamar Jackson. In fact, Tannehill’s OSM never fell below 26.0 until last week’s Wild Card game where the Titans relied heavily on the run game and he was limited to just 15 attempts.
Overall, Tannehill had the 3rd best completion rate and finished on top of the quarterback ratings. Expect that to be tested this week, as the Ravens have allowed an average 58.6% completion rate and OSM of 21.7, nearly two points below average. Tannehill has been very accurate, throwing into tight coverage more than 20% of the time and his completion rate is 8.2% higher than expected because of it. When opposing quarterbacks have thrown into tight coverage more than 20% of the time, Baltimore’s defense has kept completion rates 2.7% lower than expected.
Jackson’s OSM tends to fluctuate depending on his competition. He had stellar performances this year against Miami and Cincinnati with OSMs of 59.1 and 61.7, respectively – more than double the average quarterback’s OSM. Against playoff teams, however, he’s averaged an OSM of just 16.4.
Tennessee’s defense is slightly above average, allowing quarterbacks an average OSM of 21.9 including Tom Brady’s 4.6 last week. But, if they want to keep Jackson at bay, they’ll have to play tight coverage. Against non-playoff teams, Jackson has been aggressive on just 12.1% of his throws with a 71.7% completion rate, 6.8% above expected. Against playoff teams, he’s had to be more aggressive (19.1%) and his completion rate has dropped to 61.0% because of it, 4.3% below expected.
Baltimore’s and Tennessee’s rushing defenses are both in the middle of the pack, allowing an average rushing OSM of 13.0 and 12.8 during the season. Unlike Jackson, Mark Ingram’s OSM is not reflective of the opposing team. His OSM is inconsistent, ranging from 5.6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5 to 33.8 in Week 9 against the New England Patriots.
In Ingram’s top five performances per OSM, which resulted in four 100+ yard games, he faced eight men in the box 31.7% of the time yet somehow managed 6.5 yards per carry in those games. In other games, he averaged 4.1 yards per carry while facing eight men in the box an average of just 14% and his efficiency worsened by 39%. Tennessee is only lining up with eight men in the box 23.8% of the time, but that increased to 28.7% against teams making the playoffs this year. If they can prevent Ingram from running downhill, he may not be a major factor in the run game.
On the other side of the field, Derrick Henry needs to be as much of a downhill runner as he can be for the Titans to have a chance to continue their run in the NFL playoffs. The Ravens have only lost when they’ve allowed a featured back to have an efficiency of less than 3.0 (the lower, the better). In games won, the Ravens defense has forced opposing running backs to be less efficient, 4.1 on average. For the Titans, they’ve come out victorious nine times when Henry’s efficiency has been under 4.1. They’ve lost three of four games when it’s been higher than 4.1.
Look for Mark Andrews to have an impact for the Ravens on offense. He’s ranked 19th in OSM overall for the season, but he’s gained more than 2.5 yards of separation more than 75% of the time. When doing so, his catch % increases from 56.0% to 66.8% and his yards after catch increases from 1.3 to 4.7. Tennessee has given up more than 2.5 yards of separation to tight ends in all but four games this season. Opposing tight ends have taken advantage of that, with similar results as Andrews, increasing their catch rates from 56.3% to an astounding 79.1% and yards after catch from 3.1 to 4.6.
72% of wide receivers have gained 2.5 yards of separation against the Titans as well. Although it hasn’t impacted the catch rate (63%, either way), yards after catch increases by nearly 50%, from 2.9 to 4.3. Willie Snead and Marquise Brown will try to improve on their regular season stats, where they’ve only gained 3.0 yards on average after catch when given 2.5 yards or more of separation. It’s possible, as they’ve averaged 5.4 yards after catch against playoff teams this year.
The Ravens will also need to focus on Titans’ rookie sensation A.J. Brown in this playoff game. He’s been stellar the past two months, averaging 14.5 yards after catch since Week 12, compared to just 2.1 in prior weeks. Both of the Ravens losses came when they allowed more than 14.5 yards after catch to a wide receiver. But chances are they won’t allow another one since only 2 of 37 OSM eligible NFL receivers (5%) have met that mark playing against Baltimore.
Though OSM suggests Tannehill will be a better passer than Jackson, it also suggests he will struggle more against the Ravens defense than Jackson will against the Titans defense. Henry will likely be more of a factor for the Titans in comparison to Ingram for the Ravens but don’t expect Henry to perform at his normal level either. Additionally, the impact the Baltimore defense will have on Tennessee’s receivers should be noticeable throughout the game.
Tennessee’s expected average OSM is 25.0. Baltimore’s should come in slightly lower at 24.1. Those results likely won’t show on the scoreboard. Adjusting for points scored per OSM, expect the Ravens to win this one easily.
Pick: Baltimore Ravens 36, Tennessee Titans 18
Be sure to check out the PFN Betting Crew’s picks for the game as well.