Even in a shortened preseason, the big question in game one is “who will play?” With the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens both having long-tenured coaches, not a whole lot of offseason turnover, and big picture playoff aspirations, the answer may be “not many big names.”
Oddsmakers have the Ravens as -4 point favorites in Thursday night’s game at M&T Bank Stadium. This game doesn’t appear like it will be heavy on offensive production, as the total is just 32.5.
Titans Breaking in New WRs, QBs
The Titans actually did have some roster turnover this season, with the biggest move being the trade of WR A.J. Brown to the Eagles for the 18th and 101st overall pick in the draft. Tennessee used #18 to draft Brown’s immediate replacement, Treylon Burks, out of Arkansas.
There have been reports of Burks having a bad camp so far this Summer, lacking in conditioning, and making a lot of mental mistakes, but the accuracy of those claims is also in doubt.
Either way, it’s obvious the rookie could use some game reps with starting QB Ryan Tannehill, but that likely won’t be the case on Thursday night.
Titans fans are still excited to tune into this game, not just because football is back but also for the debut of QB Malik Willis out of Liberty.
There were rumors of him being the first quarterback selected in this Spring’s draft, but Tennessee was able to grab him all the way in the third round. Willis threw for over 2,800 yards and had 27 TD passes last year.
Harbaugh Values Preseason
Ravens coach John Harbaugh is one of those old-school coaches that believes it’s important to set up a winning mindset even in the preseason.
His results don’t lie either, as the Ravens are 20-0 in exhibition games the past five seasons, breaking the Packers’ 19-game win streak from 1959 to 1962.
Baltimore goes for 21 in a row on Thursday with QB Lamar Jackson unlikely to play. That leaves a majority of the reps for Tyler Huntley, who started four games last season, although Baltimore was 1-3 during that time.
Huntley is entering his third season, though, and that playing time last year had to be a big advantage for his development. Former Packers QB Brett Hundley out of UCLA gets the third-string reps.
Titans at Ravens Pick and Prediction
It’s hard to discount the Ravens in this spot as they obviously value the importance of preseason wins after taking home 20 straight exhibition victories.
The Titans could be an entertaining opponent with Willis throwing to Burks – a glimpse of the future in Tennessee – but it’s also hard to expect that duo to produce in their first NFL game action.
Baltimore has some talent at QB even with Jackson not playing. Huntley’s 1-3 record last year wasn’t great, but he played decently and gained valuable experience in the process.
Hundley was thought to be the heir apparent for Aaron Rodgers at one point in Green Bay, so he’ll have something to prove against 3rd and 4th stringers in the second half of Thursday’s contest.
Pick: Ravens -4