AFC Championship Game: Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens

AFC Championship Game: Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens

And then there were four!! The Baltimore Ravens wrangled the Houston Texans 34-10, and the San Francisco 49ers barely beat the Green Bay Packers 24-21 during the NFL Saturday Divisional games. On Sunday the Detroit Lions were able to fend off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-23, and the Kansas City Chiefs were able to march into Buffalo and take out the Bills 27-24. If you notice, three of these games were decided by eight points or less, and one game was a blowout, by 24 points. This week, we’re going to take a downfield read at the two upcoming matchups for this weekend in the Conference Championship games, starting with the Kansas City Chiefs at the Baltimore Ravens.

As a Ravens fan I am so excited, and I’m trying not to be biased. Honestly, I don’t think that I am being biased either. Last week I said (and it will almost always be true), DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS, and that Baltimore would win their game against Houston 27-17. The Ravens have the best defense in the NFL, and they proved it last week against the Texans. The final score may have been 34-10 (which by all definitions is a “blow-out”), but it wasn’t even THAT close. Baltimore’s defense gave up ONLY three points, which came in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Houston scored a touchdown on a punt return. The Ravens defense held Houston to 217 total yards, only 38 rushing yards, ten first downs, four for 13 conversion rating on third and fourth downs combined (28.6%), and only 22:25 time of possession.

Sure, that was only last week. How about the last few weeks of the regular season though? Ok. Week 18 Baltimore was against the Pittsburgh Steelers (a playoff team), in a game that meant NOTHING to the Ravens (they were playing second and third stringers), in which the Steelers NEEDED to win to make the playoffs. The Ravens held Pittsburg to seven points until the fourth quarter, recorded three sacks, six tackles for a loss, and forced two fumbles for recoveries. How about Week 17 when they destroyed the Dolphins (playoff team) 56-19? Ten of Miami’s points came in the first quarter, and then Baltimore shut them down! The Ravens defense accumulated five tackles for a loss, three sacks, two interceptions, and only allowed Miami’s offense to reach the Red Zone THREE times. How about Week 16 when the Ravens flogged the 49ers (#1 seed in the NFC) 33-19 IN San Fran? The 49ers got two points when Lamar Jackson tripped over a ref who fell in the end zone, and then the ‘9ers scored a touchdown with a minute left in the game (garbage time!). The Ravens defense had five tackles for a loss, four sacks, NINE quarterback hits, and FIVE interceptions! Against the best team in the NFC! Week 15, the Ravens jarred the Jaguars (who almost made the playoffs) IN Jacksonville 23-7, and the week before that they beat the L.A. Rams (ANOTHER PLAYOFF TEAM!)

Ok, ok, ok. What about the Chiefs though? I mean, they are the current Champs, and “in order to be the best, you have to beat the best”, right? Kansas City made more big plays than the Bills did last week when they needed to. Buffalo had exactly zero plays over 20 yards, a missed field goal at the end of the game and put ZERO pressure on Patrick Mahomes. The Bills had only two tackles for a loss, two QB hits, ZERO takeaways (from a KC team that’s -11 in turnover differential), and NO SACKS. They gave Mahomes all the time he needed to pick them apart, which wasn’t hard because the Bills’ linebackers were decimated with injuries! Running Back, Isaih Pacheco had 15 carries for 97 yards (6.5 yards per average), and Clyde Edwards-Helaire had two runs for 31 yards. That won’t happen against the Ravens’ D-Line and Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen.

But what about the Chiefs’ last few games before they beat the Bills? Ok. In the Wild Card Round, they defeated the Dolphins 26-7, where Miami had four tackles for a loss, but ZERO takeaways, and NO SACKS. Kansas City had 147 rushing yards as the Dolphins D couldn’t stop a broken fridge from running. Week 18 the Chiefs played the L.A. Chargers (not even close to a playoff team) in a game that didn’t matter to either team, so we can skip that one. Week 17 Kansas City played Cincinnati (also not a playoff team), where the Bengals had a 17-7 lead late in the first quarter but couldn’t hold it because…they didn’t get any pressure on Mahomes and couldn’t stop the Chiefs running game. While Cincinnati did have five hits on Mahomes, they sacked him only twice, and let Pacheco run wild to the tune of 18 carries for 130 yards (7.2 yards per carry).

HERE’s the difference-maker and I’m going to ask you to pay attention to this little nugget. In Week 16, the Chiefs HOSTED the Las Vegas Raiders (again, NOT a playoff team), who finished the regular season 15th in total yards allowed per game, 12th in passing yards allowed per game, 22nd in rushing yards allowed per game, 9th in points allowed per game, and tied for 13th in sacks. In this game though, Las Vegas hit Mahomes TEN times, including FOUR sacks, SEVEN tackles for a loss, two interceptions, and two fumble recoveries. The Raiders won, 20-14. As a reminder, the Baltimore Ravens finished the regular season sixth in total yards allowed and passing yards allowed, 14th in rushing yards allowed, and FIRST in BOTH fewest points allowed and most sacks. The Chiefs have had it EASY the last six weeks, also playing the pathetic Patriots before their Raiders game. The Ravens have had one of the toughest schedules in the NFL.

I’m not here today to tell you that the Chiefs are a better team, or how KC can win this game, because they shouldn’t, and I don’t think they will. Honestly, I don’t think anyone wants them to win either. Baltimore is the better team, and the only ones who have beaten the Ravens all year long…is the Ravens. IF Baltimore comes out in the beginning of this game against the Chiefs like they ended the second half of their game last week against the Texans, it’ll be game over by the start of the fourth quarter. I’m going to chalk up the Ravens first half of last week’s game against Houston as “shaking off the rust”, much like the 49ers did against the Packers. The only way that Kansas City wins this game is if they are perfect, and they get a little help from their refs. I said what I said. Thanks for the “read”!


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