Plenty of people have had this game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens circled on the calendar for a while. Even this early in the season, this contest could very well be for the AFC’s number one seed. Both teams are considered to be the top teams in the conference, and are both 2-0. However, the wins have not been built equal.
Today, we will focus on keys to victory for both the Chiefs and Ravens. In addition, we look towards potential x-factors. Let’s get things going with our Monday Night Football game preview.
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Kansas City- 3 Keys To Victory
1) Start Fast
We saw all last season, that the Kansas City Chiefs can struggle to start with any momentum. That continued last week against the Chargers. In a monster game like this, that cannot be the case. Patrick Mahomes and the KC offense has shown the ability to score at will against Baltimore’s vaunted unit. Going out there with that confidence will be key. The Chiefs are likely hoping to get a quick score. Playing much cleaner with blocking assignments and no drops like we saw last game, will be a telling sign.
2) Keep CEH Involved
The way last week went, Kansas City was forced to move away from Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Going back to that constant feeding of the rookie running back, like we saw in Week One, may be best for the offense’s flow. The Ravens have shown a tendency to struggle with running backs beforehand. Andy Reid must put his trust into Edwards-Helaire.
3) Dial Up Pressure
We have seen the Chiefs pass rush come close to sacking the quarterback in each game. Nonetheless, passers are getting the ball out just in time. This is partly due to a lack of creativity in blitz calls. Even though it’s still early in the season, this is rare to see from a Steve Spagnuolo defense. This can be his chance to open and unload against the Lamar Jackson offense. Believe it or not, Baltimore is tied for 23rd already in sacks allowed with six. Four of those came last week.
Baltimore- 3 Keys To Victory
1) Empty Out Run Game
If I’m the Baltimore Ravens, I would unload as much as you can for the offensive rushing attack. Force Kansas City to keep guessing by utilizing all three runners in Mark Ingram, JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Furthermore, it is important to work the Chiefs defense on the outside, just as much as it is over the middle. Challenging the inconsistent tackling of the Chiefs defense will need to be tested often.
2) Utilize Wide Receivers
The Ravens are a well oiled machine based off of the strength of the running backs and tight ends. But, using the outside receivers may be a key ingredient if they want to win this game. L’Jarius Sneed has had an encouraging start to his NFL career. Yet, testing the cornerbacks like him and others of Kansas City often with size and speed could be huge. Marquise Brown looks poised for a strong season. Meanwhile, Willie Snead has a knack for making tough catches.
3) Force Mahomes To Beat Man
We have seen man coverage concepts hurt the Chiefs before. Applying that coverage and getting in the backfield quickly, will be a good mix for the Ravens D. Just last week, the Chargers focused on that same scheme, and it largely worked. If Mahomes does not play hero in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs come out with an ugly loss. Baltimore has the ability to do the same thing.
For my two x-factors in this game, they are a bit more obvious than the usual under the radar guys. For Kansas City, the usage of Mecole Hardman has been surprisingly scarce. Sammy Watkins‘ status is in question (concussion/neck). If the veteran is out, the door is opened for Hardman. He’s answered the bell in big games before. Can he do it again?
Linebacker LJ Fort has become a reliable role player for the Ravens defense. His ability to sit in zones and use instincts in pass coverage could be key in this game. On the other hand, Fort has shown a sneaky ability as a gap filler on run defense. The former undrafted free agent already has a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries (one in each game) on the season, including one returned for a touchdown last week. Keep your eye on him.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.