It’s been a long wait, but it’s finally here. After seven seasons, the Kansas City Chiefs will finally be hosting a playoff game as the Baltimore Ravens march into town on Sunday. The Chiefs have arguably been the surprise team of the season. I highly doubt many people expected them to come out of their division. I, for one, favored the Chargers, but we all saw that road come to a halt. Kansas City had an opportunity to finish the season undefeated at home but was upended by the Oakland Raiders, dropping their home-record to an impressive 7-1. The Baltimore Ravens are going to have their hands’ full when they visit Arrowhead on Sunday.
Keys for the Chiefs
Run, Run, and run the football. The Chiefs lead the league in rushing and that has been the cornerstone of the offense all season. With a veteran running back in Thomas Jones and an explosive Jamaal Charles, I don’t see why not. Kansas City has a tendency to struggle when forced into being one-dimensional (just watch last week’s game). Matt Cassel’s had an outstanding season, but I think he’s most effective from the playaction, therefore the Chiefs’ must not abandon the run. The Chiefs must be able to protect their quarterback because when you face the Ravens, you know the blitz is coming. I don’t see the Chiefs winning this game if Matt Cassel is forced to throw forty times.
Obviously, win the turnover margins and field position (avoid three and outs). You do not want to squander opportunities against this Ravens defense.
The Ravens’ running game has been average at best this season, but Rice’s explosiveness mustn’t be forgotten. The Chiefs’ defense will need to contain the run and force Baltimore into third and long situations. Joe Flacco is bound to make mistakes when under heat. It’s time to unleash Tamba Hali.
Keys for the Ravens
The Ravens will need to slow down the Chiefs’ number one rushing attack, limiting huge plays from Jamaal Charles. Charles has run past defenses all season, leading the league with 6.4 yards per carry. He has the explosiveness to take it to the house each play. The Ravens will be looking to make the Chiefs’ one-dimensional.
Get an early lead and take the crowd out of it. Arrowhead Stadium will be the x-factor of this match up. Expect a crazy crowd.
Run the football (sense a similarity here?). Baltimore will need a big game from Rice to take some of the pressure off of Joe Flacco. The Ravens’ offense has been very sluggish at times and they will need an effective running game to handle the pass rush. If they can keep the Chiefs off-balanced, then expect some big plays out of veterans Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, and TJ Houshmandzadeh.
Playoff experience is going to be a factor in this one, and quite frankly, the Chiefs’ don’t really have any. The Baltimore Ravens have “been there and done that.” The Ravens’ defense will clamp down to stop the run. Even with the explosive playmakers on the Chiefs’ offense, I just cannot doubt Ray Lewis and Co. The Ravens have too many veteran playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. Lewis, Suggs, and Reed aren’t easy to prepare for. Also look for Haloti Ngata to win the battle of the trenches. On the other side of the ball, Flacco already has huge road playoff wins under his belt, so expect him to be calm and ready to go. Perhaps the additions of Boldin and Housh make a difference for an offense that has been missing vertical playmakers for many seasons.
The Kansas City Chiefs will give the Baltimore Ravens all they can handle, but the Ravens squeak by in the end.
Ravens 20- Chiefs 17