Every game in the NFL is a test, but this week, for the first time all season, the Ravens will go up against their first true test – their first Super Bowl contender.
For that reason, despite the fact that Baltimore is 2-0 and Lamar Jackson has been just about as good as it gets, our beloved Ravens are considerable underdogs heading into Arrowhead. Personally, I don’t care if they’re underdogs, I expect them to win. At the same time, I’m fully prepared for them not to, and with that in mind, I think it’s worth looking into the scenarios from which we can remain super excited about the season after this game, win OR lose.
If they win…
The first and most obvious scenario in which Ravens fans should be ecstatic is a Baltimore win against the Chiefs. Kansas City is a good football team; they’re stacked on offense even without Tyreek Hill and have improved their defense a great deal since last year. What’s more, Patrick Mahomes is the only QB in the NFL playing as well as, if not better than, Jackson; He might be off to a better start than the one he had last year.
If the Ravens go on the road and beat KC, there’s no argument for this team not being a legitimate contender. It will officially put the league on notice that Baltimore means business.
If they lose…
However, in the event of a loss, there are a few ways in which we fans can remain calm and confident in our team.
If the Ravens go to Arrowhead and lose a shootout, with Jackson limiting turnovers and running up the score alongside Mahomes, I think it’s very reasonable to stay happy with this team and view them as a contender. I feel last year’s game at Arrowhead was an indicator that the team was for real under Jackson, and even if they lose, a strong offensive showing would once again continue to prove that his progression is legitimate and that he hasn’t just been playing bad teams.
Sunday’s game will be a major focus of all the pregame shows, all eyes will be on Jackson, and he will be in a seriously rowdy environment. He’ll be uncomfortable, but if he continues to perform, I think it’s safe to say that he’s a true QB1 once and for all. Let’s end that discussion.
If Jackson and the offense are just OK – similar to the way they were last week against the Cardinals (putting up yards but not enough TDs) – there may be more cause for concern. That being said, if the defense is also able to hold Mahomes and the Chiefs to a similarly meh performance in a loss, I think Ravens fans can remain happy. Last week, the secondary had some holes that Kyler Murray was able to exploit. If Wink Martindale’s unit fixes those and contains Kansas City at home, it’ll show that the unit can once again be special and that last week was a fluke.
Now, if Jackson and the Ravens offense struggle to put up points and the defensive performance is sub-par, with Mahomes simply chucking the ball every which way in the form of a blowout KC win, Baltimore fans should worry.
Without a doubt, the teams the Ravens have gone up against are not good, so any significant loss on the road against a very good team will raise serious question marks. I don’t see this team suffering a blowout loss, but when you’re playing someone like the Chiefs who can run it up in a hurry, nothing is out of the question.
I’m confident that the Ravens will at least keep this game close enough to quell any concerns after three weeks. If the team sits at 2-1 and goes home to beat the overhyped Cleveland Browns, there will still be plenty about which to be excited.
And, if Jackson walks into Arrowhead, spreads the ball around and puts up another stellar game while the defense holds Mahomes to a losing performance, we can go crazy with excitement.
Even though I’m predicting that to happen, I don’t really know how I’ll react if (when) it does.
Let’s go Ravens.