New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton passes under pressure from Baltimore Ravens defensive end Derek Wolfe (95) and safety Chuck Clark (36) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, center, looks for a receiver behind blockers in the first half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) carries the ball against Indianapolis Colts free safety Julian Blackmon (32) in the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Embarrassed by the fashion in which Derrick Henry shredded their defense for 195 yards rushing in the playoffs last January, the Baltimore Ravens worked during the offseason to improve their ability to stop the run.
General manager Eric DeCosta traded for five-time Pro Bowl end Calais Campbell and signed free agent Derek Wolfe to build a formidable front with 336-pound tackle Brandon Williams.
That trio was supposed to team up against Henry and the Titans (6-3) this Sunday in the rematch of that 2019 AFC divisional clash, a 28-12 Tennessee upset. Unfortunately for Baltimore, injuries to Campbell (calf strain) and Williams (ankle sprain) have forced the Ravens to shift to Plan B.
If Campbell and Williams can't go, it's next man up for Baltimore (6-3) against Henry, one of the league's most prolific running backs.
''It's a challenge no matter who you have,'' Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. ''The way we drafted, the free agents we signed, they need to step up and play their role.''
With Wolfe, Justin Ellis and third-round draft pick Justin Madubuike up front last week, New England racked up 173 yards rushing in a 23-17 win. The competition won't be any easier against Henry, who's closing in on 1,000 yards and had his fifth 100-yard game of the season last week against Indianapolis.
''The sky has not fallen. We'll be fine and ready to go on Sunday,'' Martindale insisted.
It sure won't be easy.
''You better have your helmet strapped up and get ready for this ride,'' Ravens safety DeShon Elliot said. ''You better be coming downhill and hit him every time.''
Even without Campbell and Williams, the Ravens' defense has enough hard hitters and Pro Bowl starters to give the Titans reason for concern.
''Whoever's in there, it's going to be a huge challenge for us to be able to move the football,'' Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel said.
SENSE OF URGENCY
The Titans have lost three of four to drop into a first-place tie with Indianapolis in the AFC South, and the Ravens trail unbeaten Pittsburgh by three games in the AFC North. The winner of this game gets the edge over the other in playoff seeding and can gain momentum heading into the final six weeks.
''We're at that point in the season where teams are going to start separating themselves, and we want to be one of those teams,'' Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. ''Things haven't gone in the right direction the past month or so. Nothing catastrophic, but if we don't get things turned around quickly, then we're not going to be in a good position.''
LAMAR TURNS PAGE
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson had three turnovers in that playoff defeat in January and didn't direct a touchdown drive until the fourth quarter.
Asked if he's looking for revenge Sunday, the reigning NFL MVP said, ''The game is over with. We're just going into this game trying to be 7-3. That's all. We're not looking into it like a revenge game.''
The Ravens and Titans have feasted on takeaways this season, and Sunday's game could hinge on the team that best protects the football.
Tennessee has been very good at it. The Titans have committed only four turnovers, four fewer than the previous franchise record over the the first nine games.
Not only that, but Tennessee owns a plus-10 turnover differential. The Ravens forced a turnover in 21 straight games before coming up empty at New England.
''It's always huge if we can try to win the turnover margin, and obviously take care of the football on our end,'' Vrabel said. ''It doesn't do any good if you're getting turnovers but you're giving it back to them.''
Fans will not be allowed to attend the game because of the spike of COVID-19 positive tests in Maryland. The Ravens had slightly over 4,000 fans at their previous home game against Pittsburgh on Nov. 1.
Whether it's because of the crowd or because they're comfortable with their surroundings, the Ravens are 74-26 at home - including 22-5 in November - under coach John Harbaugh, who took over in 2008.
Because the Ravens rely heavily on the run, they're far better when playing with a lead than coming from behind.
''That allows them to play to their strengths: run the football and pressure the quarterback, pressure meaning mistakes, interceptions, sacks, long-yardage situation,'' Vrabel said.
In that January playoff game, the Titans bolted to a 14-0 lead and put Jackson in position to where he ended up throwing a career-high 59 passes. Tannehill, in contrast, went 7 for 14 for 88 yards.
''A point of emphasis for us this week is to come out and start the game fast,'' Tannehill said.
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 13
The New York Giants placed starting outside linebacker Kyle Fackrell (calf) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday with a calf injury. Fackrell will miss at least the next three games, leaving the Giants very short-handed at the position. He was tied for second on the team with three sacks and was playing close to 100 percent of the defensive snaps before suffering the injury in the Week 12 win over the Bengals. No outside linebacker on the active roster has more than one sack this year. Linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are also on IR. Jamaal Sheard and rookies Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown could start in Week 13 against the Seahawks, making the New York defense one to avoid for fantasy managers after they were a popular streaming defense against Cincy.
The Denver Broncos activated quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday after all three had PCR tests come back negative on Monday. They will all be eligible to play in Week 13 against the Chiefs. So barring additional team discipline, the Broncos won't be forced to use a practice-squad wide receiver under center against their division rivals. If Lock returns as the starter for this offense, it'll be excellent news for receivers Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler and tight end Noah Fant. Denver will likely be forced to throw often to keep up with the Chiefs high-octane offense, too, but Lock's inconsistency this season keeps him as a low-end QB2. The 24-year-old was 24-for-40 for 254 yards and two interceptions in the first meeting against KC back in Week 7.
The Atlanta Falcons placed wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus (toe) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday after he left the Week 12 win over the Raiders with a toe injury. In a corresponding move, the team activated receiver Laquon Treadwell from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and added him to the 53-man roster. Zaccheaus popped up for a couple decent games this year, but it his production was inconsistent on a weekly basis and he was too far down the team's receiving depth chart to be a viable fantasy option in most leagues. The second-year wideout's best game came in Week 9 against the Broncos when he had four receptions for 103 yards and his first touchdown of the season. If he doesn't make it back this year, he'll finish with 20 receptions (32 targets) for 274 yards and the one touchdown. Christian Blake and Brandon Powell could see some more playing time as the No. 4 wideout with Zaccheaus out.
Baltimore Ravens running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II are both eligible to be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list prior to the Week 12 game against the Steelers on Wednesday, but it's not a given that either will play. Both players have been isolated since testing positive for the virus on Nov. 22 and aren't allowed to fly on the team plane on Tuesday night. At this point, if you have Dobbins or Ingram on your roster, you've likely benched them for other running backs that already played in Week 12. Even if they both play, Gus Edwards could see the majority of backfield touches and will be the best fantasy play of the trio. Those that picked up Edwards in order to start him this week are hoping that neither Dobbins nor Ingram suit up in the tough matchup against the undefeated Steelers.
The Baltimore Ravens activated defensive tackle Brandon Williams, quarterback Trace McSorley, nickelback Tavon Young and cornerback Khalil Dorsey from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. They could activate more players from the list before kickoff against the Steelers on Wednesday. McSorley should be the backup to Robert Griffin III on Wednesday with Lamar Jackson testing positive for COVID-19 and being unavailable this week. The return of Williams will be good news for Baltimore's defensive line, who will again be without Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell. The Ravens Defense is more of a gamble in DFS and season-long leagues against the undefeated Steelers, but inclement weather is expected and could make things tougher on both offenses.
Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook (ankle) is 'just kind of beat up,' according to offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Fantasy Spin: Cook briefly left the Week 12 game against the Carolina Panthers but returned to finish with 83 total yards and 22 touches. He leads the league with 1,385 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns on the season. The Vikings' schedule gets much tougher following the Week 13 home date against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he'll remain a matchup-proof RB1 due to his heavy usage.
San Francisco 49ers DT D.J. Jones, DE Jordan Willis and practice squad TE Daniel Helm will be activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and practice Thursday, Dec. 3, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Los Angeles Chargers TE Matt Sokol and DB Jaylen Watkins were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Las Vegas Raiders LB Vic Beasley, PK Dominik Eberle, DE David Irving and DE Chris Smith were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Houston Texans WR Chad Hansen, DT Corey Liuget, WR Steven Mitchell Jr. and WR Damion Ratley were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Jacksonville Jaguars WR Terry Godwin, DB Josh Nurse, DT Caraun Reid and PK Aldrick Rosas were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Dallas Cowboys DB Deante Burton, OT Jordan Mills, DB Rashard Robinson and OT William Sweet were named protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Denver Broncos RB LeVante Bellamy, TE Troy Fumagalli, DB Alijah Holder and LB Josh Watson were made protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Cleveland Browns OT Michael Dunn, QB Kyle Lauletta, PK Matthew McCrane and OT Alex Taylor were designated as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Free-agent WR Joe Webb (Lions) is visiting the New York Giants Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Chicago Bears QB Tyler Bray was designated as a protected practice squad player for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Cincinnati Bengals QB Kevin Hogan, WR Stanley Morgan, RB Jacques Patrick and TE Mitchell Wilcox were named as protected practice squad players for Week 13 Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Buffalo Bills DE Bryan Cox Jr., C Jordan Devey, C Jonotthan Harrison and LB Darron Lee were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 13 on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Houston Texans WR Will Fuller and CB Bradley Roby were officially placed on the Reserve/Suspended list Tuesday, Dec. 1. The Texans also activated DT Andrew Brown from the Exempt/Commissioner Permission list.
Arizona Cardinals TE Seth DeValve, DE Michael Dogbe, RB D.J. Foster and WR A.J. Richardson were chosen as protected practice squad players for Week 13 on Tuesday, Dec. 1.