Baltimore Ravens: Three Things to Watch vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Here are three things as the 7-5 Baltimore Ravens take on the 10-2 Kansas City Chiefs at Arrow Head Stadium on Sunday for Week 14.
The number one total defense of the Baltimore Ravens will take on the Kansas City Chiefs and the top scoring offense in the NFL. This should be a test of strength against strength, so it is up to the other side of the ball that should determine the game. The Ravens run game has been productive with Lamar Jackson, ranking in the top ten as defenses have to contain both Jackson and the running back. The Chiefs defense is getting better and healthier, having Justin Houston back and potentially getting Eric Berry in their defense should help them get more turnovers. This should be Patrick Mahomes biggest test against the Ravens defense that has allowed the least amount of yards in the NFL. With the Ravens playoff hopes on the line in a competitive AFC wildcard race, here are three things to watch in this game.
How will the Ravens cover the Chief’s playmakers like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce?
Marlon Humphrey has not practiced so far this week with a groin injury, which is troubling for the Ravens defense. He has been the top cornerback this year as Jimmy Smith has not played on par with his performance last year and Brandon Carr is reliable but is better as a number two corner. If he is out, Jimmy Smith will likely cover Tyreek Hill but can C.J. Mosely or Kenny Young/ Patrick Onwuasor cover one of the best tight ends in the NFL in Travis Kelce?
Eric Weddle will likely be involved in covering Kelce as he can exploit the Ravens defense that has not been good against tight ends all year. Tony Jefferson also is likely out this week with an ankle injury so Anthony Levine should be involved a lot more in coverage with Chuck Clark getting his second start. The Chiefs signed Kelvin Benjamin from the Buffalo Bills this week so Carr will likely cover him or Sammy Watkins if he plays (limited with a foot injury). The Ravens defense has not been good against very good offenses so this will be a test for them if they are the real deal as the number one defense.
Will the Ravens go back to Joe Flacco if he is healthy or will they stick with Lamar Jackson against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs top-ranked offense?
The Ravens should go to Lamar Jackson, even with Joe Flacco healthy, for the rest of the season and in the playoffs if they get there. The run game for Baltimore was one of the worst with Flacco and even though the passing game for the Ravens has dipped, at least Jackson has the potential to hit those deep shots as Flacco can but has his inaccuracies and struggles as well. Jackson is mobile enough to make plays himself if the offensive line does not hold up while Flacco cannot escape in most of those situations.
With Patrick Mahomes having an MVP caliber season, the Ravens defense will have their work cut out for them. The Ravens will need to run the ball productively and win the time of possession and the turnover differential. They will have to keep the high-flying Chiefs passing attack and Patrick Mahomes off the field if Baltimore wants a chance to dethrone the best team in the AFC. Terrell Suggs and Matt Judon will need a big game like last week to harass Mahomes and limit the big plays down the field by not giving him the time to do so.
Can the Ravens offense take advantage of the Chiefs 31st ranked defense?
Even though the defenses have been bottom five in the NFL, Lamar Jackson has still been good enough to win games in the run-heavy scheme. The Chiefs do have one of the better pass rushing duos in Justin Houston and Dee Ford so Jackson will have to protect the football and play a clean game to give the Ravens a chance to win. The Chiefs secondary can be exploited so the Ravens should try to get John Brown going on the deep routes against Kendall Fuller if Jackson can hit them on target. The running back committee of Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon, and Ty Montgomery will be key in this game to keep the chains moving against the Chiefs run defense, especially defensive end Chris Jones and middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens.
This should be one of the better games in Week 14 on Sunday as the AFC playoff picture is taking shape.
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