The way wide receiver Justin Armour sees it, the Baltimore Ravens stand on the cusp of something good.
Armour caught the 54-yard touchdown pass in overtime that gave the Ravens a 19-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons last week. He saw how that win against the defending NFC champions altered Baltimore's psyche.
"This team is like a pot of boiling water that's just about ready to boil," Armour said. "You're sitting there looking at it. You're anxious for the first bubble to show up. There's a sense of urgency that's here."
After losing their first two games, the Ravens (2-2) will try to keep their bubble from bursting when they play the Tennessee Titans (3-1) at Nashville's new Adelphia Coliseum.
"Not since St. Louis [the Ravens' season-opening opponent] have we seen a team that can do as many things as this team does," Baltimore Coach Brian Billick said. "I can't think of an AFC team that really is any more talented than this one. They feel good about themselves. They feel like they have a home. They're confident there. This will be as good a challenge as we'll probably have all year long."
As they prepare to play Tennessee today, the Ravens are at less than full strength. Left tackle Jonathan Ogden suffered a strained neck last Sunday and practiced very little this week. If he does not play, Everett Lindsay likely will move from left guard to left tackle, and James Atkins, who has been hampered by a hamstring pull, would move in at left guard.
Tackle Harry Swayne (ankle) also is questionable for the game. If Swayne is limited by his injury, Spencer Folau might see additional playing time at that position. Because of Ogden's and Swayne's problems, Baltimore probably will activate eight linemen for the game.
Aside from their injuries, the Ravens' biggest concern is stopping Tennessee running back Eddie George, who they have kept under 100 yards rushing in four of the teams' six meetings.
"He's a tough, big back," middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "They love running him inside to let him use his toughness and [size]. We usually play well against Eddie. We just want to go in and try to contain him, not let him get rolling because when he gets rolling that opens up the passing game."
This season, as the Titans rely less on their running game, George has become more dangerous as a receiver. Last week, he had a career-high 81 yards receiving. Before this season, he had scored two receiving touchdowns in his career. This season, he already has three. Tennessee, which had 15 touchdown passes last season, already has thrown for eight.
"We've improved in the passing game," Tennessee Coach Jeff Fisher said. "Clubs have still elected to shut down our running game. Based on what defenses are doing, we've been forced into a passing game. . . . The key is to just be able to get the ball to Eddie. Whether you hand it to him or toss it to him or throw it to him."
Former Maryland quarterback Neil O'Donnell has taken over for Steve McNair, who is out because of back surgery. O'Donnell is the AFC's third-ranked passer and has led the Titans to a 2-1 record.
So far, the Ravens have played pretty much as expected. They have had a chance to win every game. They have improved each week. Now the question is how they will do against one of the AFC's better teams.
"We want to be the surprise team in the league," Armour said. "We want to do well. We're starting to believe that we can. This game is a big, big hurdle for us."