In the NFL's Week 6 edition of the 2023 International Series, we will see a faceoff between two AFC foes looking to rebound from disappointing losses last week.
The Tennessee Titans (2-3) will act as host for the Baltimore Ravens (3-2) when the teams play in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Sunday morning for the final London game of the year.
With their Week 5 loss to the Steelers, the Ravens have now relinquished their spot at the top of the AFC North to Pittsburgh, which leads on tiebreakers after its comeback win. Baltimore will try to keep pace with a win in England this weekend.
As for the Titans, they have flip-flopped back and forth this season, at times showing promise (see their 27-3 win over the Bengals), but at other points have been unable to pull out a win (see last week's defeat by the Colts). Thus far, they have oscillated between wins and losses and will hope to rise back up to .500 with a win Sunday.
Both teams have played just once before internationally, each suffering a loss at London's Wembley Stadium (Ravens in 2017, Titans in 2018).
In an increasingly tough conference with parity across the board, every game matters more than ever, and these two teams with playoff ambitions will try to add to their win totals Sunday in London.
Here are three things to watch for when the Ravens and Titans square off in London on Sunday on NFL Network:
- The Ravens need a clean game. Baltimore has a winning record coming into this week, but its two losses were indicative of the main struggle the team has dealt with thus far: avoidable mistakes. In Week 3 versus the Colts, slippery conditions led to four fumbles (two lost). Last week against a Steelers team that has struggled to get things going offensively, the Ravens gifted their opponent two more fumbles and an interception. Pittsburgh scored 12 points on the possessions immediately following those three turnovers, adding two more with a safety. And beyond that, Baltimore pass catchers had seven drops, the most by any team in a game this season, per PFF, accounting for half of Lamar Jackson’s incompletions on the day. As for Jackson, despite being one of only two players with 1,000-plus passing yards and 200-plus rushing yards this season, he leads the league in fumbles (seven). The Ravens clearly have a potentially potent offense, despite injuries -- running back J.K. Dobbins has been placed on injured reserve and wideout Odell Beckham Jr. has missed two games. They just need to clean things up. And now they’ll face a Titans defense that, while solid in stopping the run game, has been unable to contain opponents in the pass game (ranked 23rd). It could just come down to whether the Ravens can get out of their own way.
- Titans need consistency on offense. While the Tennessee defense could be better, the offense’s inconsistency is a huge part of why the Titans have been unable to string together wins. Derrick Henry has not steamrolled opponents in the way the Titans have become accustomed to seeing. So far he’s averaged only 65.6 yards per game on the ground, averaging a career-low 3.8 yards per tote, and has just one game with 100-plus yards. With Henry being such a pivotal piece of the offensive scheme, his struggles have limited the unit. But it hasn’t helped that Ryan Tannehill and the receiving corps have struggled, as well. Tannehill appeared to have finally found a solid connection with DeAndre Hopkins last week after not looking in sync for the first month of the season. Hopkins had eight receptions for 140 yards versus the Colts, compared to 216 yards combined in Weeks 1-4, indicating the QB-WR chemistry is starting to build. But aside from Hopkins, the rest of the WR group has been virtually invisible. Treylon Burks, who was expected to play a bigger role in his second season, will be out for the third straight week with a knee injury, and no player other than Hopkins has more than 143 receiving yards on the season. The Titans will want to reverse that trend but will attempt it while facing a formidable defense in the Ravens, who rank seventh in rushing yards allowed per game and third in passing yards.
- How will the London time affect the teams? A unique aspect of teams playing in international games is the change in time zone -- in the case of London a five- or six-hour difference from Baltimore and Nashville, respectively. Over the history of the International Series, different teams have taken different approaches to help adjust and avoid jet lag. Head coaches John Harbaugh and Mike Vrabel discussed the steps they are taking to prepare their teams in the leadup to Sunday, though they have gone with opposite strategies. Harbaugh, who was at the helm for the Ravens’ last trip overseas, remembers the disastrous 44-7 loss to the Jaguars that came after the team didn’t arrive in London until Friday morning. Therefore, the Ravens left Baltimore on Monday morning to spend the whole week in London. Conversely, the Titans decided to hold two practices in Nashville before flying out in time to arrive Friday morning. We’ll have to see which approach pays off in this head-to-head matchup.