Ravens vs. Chiefs: 3 Keys of the Game for Each Team
1. Stop Jamaal Charles: Charles has established himself as one of the premier backs in the NFL this season, and the Ravens run defense hasn’t been as strong as it has in the past. If Charles gets going early it could be a long day for Baltimore, as he is the Chiefs best offensive weapon. The Ravens will need to win the battle at the offensive line, and be more sure with their tackles. If Baltimore can neutralize him, then Kansas City will be significantly weakened on offense and the Ravens can attack Matt Cassel.
2. Attack Matt Cassel: I know Cassel’s number are pretty solid this season as he led the Chiefs to win the division, but he is really nothing more than an average quarterback at best. Now don’t get me wrong, if he is an average quarterback that doesn’t make mistakes the Chiefs could win. But, if Charles is stopped and the game is on his shoulders I don’t think Kansas City has a good chance. The Ravens for their part, need to get significant pressure on Cassel and force him to beat them. If they can get some pressure, I think there is a good chance they can count on a couple of costly turnovers. Terrell Suggs will be one player that needs to be constantly watched, but other Ravens will need to be involved if Baltimore is too be successful.
3. Strike Quickly On Offense: The Ravens actually have a good offense for once in the postseason, so I’d recommend taking it out for a spin. Baltimore is on the road, and the last thing they can afford is to go down early and have the crowd amped up for the game. If the Ravens can jump out to an early 10+ point lead, it can help take the running game out of the equation (at least partially). It will also help take the crowd and momentum out of the Chiefs corner. I don’t think that Kansas City has the offense to get into a shootout with Baltimore, so an early lead could mean a playoff with for the Ravens.
1. Run the Ball Early and Often: It sounds like an obvious game plan, but it is even more important when you have a running back like Jamaal Charles (Thomas Jones as a backup isn’t too shabby either). Charles has the type of ability to literally carry the Chiefs to victory against this Ravens defense. Charles is a dangerous home run threat that can take the ball to the house from anywhere on the field. Also, if their running game gets going they will keep the Ravens offense off the field, which is important as they can’t afford a shootout. If the Chiefs win the battle up front they have a real shot of winning this game.
2. Don’t Make Any Mistakes: That Ravens defense has a knack with coming up with the big plays, so the Chiefs need to ensure they don’t give them any easy interceptions or fumbles. Its the type of defense, that usually it is better to go down for the ball carrier, than fight for extra yards and potentially fumble. Matt Cassel needs to be very cautious with the ball and if it isn’t there, just check down to a back out of the backfield. He also needs to be aware of the pass rush, especially Suggs, and throw the ball away to avoid the loss of yardage and a potential fumble.
3. Dial Up the Blitz: Kansas City doesn’t have a great overall defense, but they do have some special play makers. To compensate for the rest of the talent, they need to use some interesting looks to attack Joe Flacco. If they can confuse Flacco and his protection schemes, they could have a shot at stopping the Ravens offense. Kansas City will need to at least slow them down if they have a chance of winning, and the best option might be with blitzes, especially since their defensive backs have the ability to cover man-to-man.
Prediction: I think the Ravens are too talented overall and they win 27-17.