Kansas City Chiefs: Getting to know Baltimore Ravens before Week 3

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 09: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs scrambles to the outside against pressure from outside linebacker Matt Judon #99 of the Baltimore Ravens during the second half on December 9, 2018 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 09: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs scrambles to the outside against pressure from outside linebacker Matt Judon #99 of the Baltimore Ravens during the second half on December 9, 2018 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /

On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs finally return to Arrowhead Stadium for the first game that matters since losing there against the New England Patriots in last year’s AFC Championship Game.

And they face a most formidable opponent: the 2-0 Baltimore Ravens, a team that the Chiefs narrowly defeated last season.

Considering the match-up, I reached out to FanSided’s site devoted to the Ravens, Ebony Bird, and chatted a bit with the site expert, Chris Schisler, who graciously took the time to answer my questions.

For a better overall feel of the Ravens, make sure to check out that site. Great stuff over there.

Suffice it to say, despite this game happening in front of the home crowd, this will be the Chiefs’ biggest test so far of the young season.

Jekel: In the offseason, it appeared this defense was poached, but two games in, the Ravens have only given up 27 points. Who’s stepping it up on that side of the ball?

SchislerAt Ebony Bird we’ve been telling everyone all offseason that the defensive exodus was blown out of proportion. The Ravens defensive front is solid. Marlon Humphrey is an elite cornerback and Earl Thomas is still a great safety.

Matt Judon has had a good start to the season. He has a couple sacks and has been the leader of the front seven thus far. Patrick Onwuasor has 10 tackles and a sack through two games and he’s a leader for the defense as well. One other standout is Pernell McPhee. He has 1.5 sacks and has played really solid football.

Jekel: Marquise Brown leads Baltimore’s wide receivers with 12 receptions with the next [wide receiver] having collected only three passes. Is there a lack of depth at wide receiver? If so, how concerning is that?

Schisler: I think that’s more a sign of Marquise Brown being dominant as a rookie. Remember, [quarterback] Lamar Jackson threw five touchdown passes in the opener and Brown only had two of them. Willie Snead [and] Miles Boykin are very capable receivers. In fact, Snead may be the most reliable receiver on the team. If those numbers don’t even out a bit there could be some concern.

What makes this offense go is the running game, [tight end] Mark Andrews and Hollywood Brown. The Ravens need to keep feeding their main weapons. It will open things up for the rest of the guys.

Jekel: Through two weeks, Lamar Jackson has a completion percentage of just under 72%, but his yards per attempt dropped from 16.2 against Miami to 7.4 against Arizona. Passing-wise, what do you expect him to do against the Chiefs?

Schisler: I’ve been screaming it all offseason long in an attempt to drown out the doubters; Lamar Jackson is special. He’s the most exciting player I have ever seen behind a Ravens’ center. I also think that the Chiefs defense is ripe for the Ravens offense to eat up. This is going to be a great game.

I don’t know if the Ravens have an answer for Patrick Mahomes (who is special as well); however I do know that nobody has an answer for Jackson. Jackson almost beat the Chiefs in an offense designed just to get the Ravens through the 2018 season. He’s improved as a passer, we already know that Arrowhead Stadium doesn’t rattle him. I think he keeps the Ravens in this game and his arm may just win the game for Baltimore.

Let’s say Jackson gets 250 yards through the air for three touchdowns. That sounds in line with his two amazing performances this season.

Jekel: Appeared John Harbaugh was on the hot seat for quite a bit in 2018. Even though it’s still pretty early in the season, now how do fans think of him?

Schisler: John Harbaugh still has his critics yet that comes with being the coach of a team for 11 seasons. Harbaugh isn’t on the hot seat. The Ravens have a youth movement going on. They see a window opening up for a championship run. It feels like 2008 all over again. That’s when John Harbaugh came to the Ravens. He took the Ravens to the playoffs five years in a row, leading the Super Bowl in the 2012 season. That’s the kind of window the franchise thinks is there.

The fans have honestly turned the corner on Harbaugh. They went from wanting change at the head coaching spot to being too excited to think about it. The Ravens Flock is really excited and rightfully so, because this has been a fun start to 2019.

Jekel: Kyler Murray, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft, passed for 349 yards on Sunday against the Ravens. Is that concerning or more of the Cardinals playing from behind most of the game?

Schisler: Murray did have a good game. Yes it is very concerning. Anthony Averett just got picked on badly. Brandon Carr probably had his worst game as a Ravens cornerback. The Ravens basically sent a memo to Andy Reid that if you throw the ball constantly you can have success against this team.

The Jimmy Smith injury looms very large over this team. It’s something that could prevent the Ravens from having a 6-0 start. If the Ravens beat the Chiefs, that’s the kind of run that is on the table. This is what could give the Chiefs the edge on Sunday. It’s absolutely a concern and there is no way to sugar coat it.

The good news is that the Cardinals game was a rare off day for Carr. He’s better than that. The [good] news is that Humphrey and Thomas are elite players in the secondary and that Don Martindale is a great defensive coordinator. It is a concern. We’ll see how much it plays into the outcome of the game on Sunday. It’s something to watch for.

Jekel: The Chiefs are up next. Who on offense, besides Jackson, needs to step it up for the Ravens to win on the road?

Schisler: The offensive line. The Chiefs pass rush is one thing on this defense that Baltimore has to worry about.

More than anything though, it’s hard to imagine a win for the Ravens if Mark Ingram II has a bad day. The Ravens need the ground game to churn out a good bit of production. The Cardinals made Jackson get most of the rushing yards. That can’t happen against the Chiefs. The offensive line has to play better, especially the left guard, Bradley Bozeman.

Jekel: What’s Baltimore’s best shot at neutralizing, or at least slowing down, Patrick Mahomes?

Schisler: Don Martindale is a great defensive coordinator. Expect the Ravens defense to throw a little bit of everything at Mahomes. The Ravens linebackers have struggled in coverage this season. I think you could see timely blitzes of the inside linebackers to get the most out of the pass defense. If the Ravens can limit the damage from Travis Kelce, they have a shot at keeping Mahomes and company under 30 points on the scoreboard. If they do that, they can win.


Jekel: Finally, what’s your prediction for Sunday?

Next. Kansas City Chiefs: 10 Likes & 10 Dislikes from Week 2. dark

SchislerGive me the Ravens 31-28. The Ravens are on a roll and this is the biggest challenge they have faced (and it’s not close). This one is a toss up game. I really do believe that these are two of the best teams in the league and it can go either way.

This feels like the Ravens Super Bowl. They want revenge for last year’s close call. They want to prove that they are contenders. This game is huge for the Ravens. I think they step up to the challenge. This doesn’t seem like just any 2-0 stretch to the season. The Ravens believe something special is brewing and quite frankly it’s not hard to understand why.