The Ravens have a tough assignment as they look to rebound from the disappointing loss in Vegas, as the two-time defending AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs come to town for a Sunday night showdown.
RSR staff give their bold predictions here…
After a disappointing opener in Las Vegas I’m left with the feeling that the Ravens have done little in 2021 to fix the weaknesses of the 2020 season. The pass rush failed to get home against an unproven offensive line even with an array of blitzes leaving the secondary completely exposed. And the Ravens own offensive line, improved on paper, looked worse on the field than the unit from 2020. But it is just one week and recency bias sways thoughts to the point of overreaction. Yet I can’t resist the urge to overreact. So here goes…
• For the second consecutive week the Ravens will give up 400+ yards by air.
• Clyde Edwards-Helaire will tally 140 yards from scrimmage, 70 by air, courtesy of Andy Reid’s innovative screens and missed tackles.
• Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill will combine for over 200 yards in receptions.
• Chris Jones and Frank Clark team up for 3 ½ sacks
• Lamar Jackson will look sharp when given time but it won’t be enough to match Mahomes.
• Latavius Murray gains 80 yards on 15 carries, most of the production coming in the first half. Greg Roman will have no choice but to abandon the run after the break.
• Sammy Watkins scores against his former mates late in the game during stat padding time.
The kryptonite remains intact as the Ravens, despite a late rally, fall to the Chiefs. But then again, I predicted a 14-point win last week, so what do I know?
Chiefs 34 Ravens 24
The Ravens need a good performance Sunday night after that excruciating loss to the Raiders to open the season. If they show progress on defense and along the offensive line, perhaps some of the gloom and doom will leave town. I’m guessing you see a better showing from both units against a very scary Chiefs team.
Here are some pretty bold predictions:
• The run game gets a little boost — specifically the run game generated by the backs. Ty’Son Williams, after an optimistic debut, expands his role and puts up more than 80 yards, while the team hits the 200-yard mark.
• The offense will have to adapt to what they have to see as a weakness up front in pass protection, and will. I look for more end-arounds with Devin Duvernay, and some quick hitters to Josh Oliver and Williams out of the backfield to exploit what I can only assume will be a ears-pinned-back rush from Kansas City. The hope is that will open up play-action for some deep hitters in the second half.
• Marquise Brown will hit the century mark and add another touchdown to his season totals.
• The Ravens will be a bit more leaky against the run as they put a huge emphasis on slowing down the Chiefs passing game.
Kansas City 33 Baltimore 31
The Ravens keep this one surprisingly close for the first three quarters, as they head into the final quarter down just three points at 17-20; however the Chiefs do what they do best and turn it up in the fourth quarter to seal their victory as the Ravens start 0-2.
Offensively, Lamar Jackson throws for a touchdown and runs for another, with 340 total yards on the day. Ty’Son Williams gets relegated to RB2 duties (thanks to his pass pro concerns) as he and Latavius Murray combine for just 80 yards on the ground. Donta Freeman gets signed to the active roster prior to the game, and adds just five carries for 20 yards. Sammy Watkins leads all receivers with 70 yards on five catches with the lone receiving touchdown.
Defensively, the Ravens force a turnover on a tip drill interception by Chuck Clark, but otherwise there’s no splash plays to help provide the offense with short fields. Marlon Humphrey is moved around the field plenty, and Mahomes opts to avoid Marlo while picking on Tavon Young, as the Chiefs QB throws for 300 yards and a trio of touchdowns. On a cheerier note, Justin Houston will get his first sack as a Raven, and Malik Harrison adds one of his own as well.
It’s close… until it’s not.
Chiefs 30 Ravens 20
The Chiefs official account tweeted this out yesterday, and while it’s nothing but a statement of fact, it certainly felt like quite the poke in the eye, no?
Everyone was a full participant at practice today. https://t.co/GnrQuCxdoB
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) September 16, 2021
The two-time kings of the AFC at full strength against a Ravens squad they already owned, which is now operating as a M*A*S*H unit?
The Ravens are the crown princes of adversity, and I still think the 2021 season will prove that in the long run, especially after an 0-2 start and all these injuries, but this one in particular won’t be pretty.
Chiefs 38 Ravens 21
More bad news for the Ravens with the injuries to Ronnie Stanley, Chris Westry, Devin Duvernay and Hollywood Brown. We don’t know the extent of these injuries so maybe some of them will play Sunday night. I don’t think many pundits are picking the Ravens to win so maybe they can pull off the upset. The biggest concern has to be the offensive line. They might end up looking worse than Monday night.
— Ar’Darius Washington will be active and make the most of his first NFL game with an interception.
— The secondary will start off good but eventually the trio of Patrick Mahomes,Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill will take a toll and wear them out by the 4th quarter.
— Lamar Jackson will struggle with his protection from an offensive line that needs improvement. He will run more out of necessity with play breakdowns for 120 yards and one rushing touchdown and one passing touchdown. He will pass for less than 200 yards.
— Mark Andrews will have a bounce back game with a touchdown and 50 yards.
— Sammy Watkins will be the wide receiver that shines facing his old team for 85 yards.
— Ty’son Williams has another good game with a touchdown proving once again he’s earned his spot.
Chiefs 31 Ravens 24
If you would have bet me the Raiders would go over 30 points on Monday night, I would have taken that under and bet an irresponsible amount of money on it. I pegged this defense, even without Marcus Peters, as one of the better units in the league. Maybe it’s personnel, maybe it was scheme, but they sure didn’t look like it Monday night.
I get the all of the “any given Sunday” clichés, but as a bettor, you have to use the facts you have in front of you. Nothing that I saw on Monday night would give me any amount of confidence that the Ravens can cover against the best offensive unit in the league. With that said, I would not be surprised if Baltimore did cover. This is the NFL after all.
Ultimately, the Ravens will fade down the stretch and fail to cover the 3.5 points. They’ll ride the wave of the electric atmosphere that is sure to fill The Bank early in the game and keep it close going into halftime. In the second half, Patrick Mahomes and co. will pull away and the Ravens will be going into Detroit at 0-2.
Chiefs 34 Ravens 27
The Chiefs are catching the Ravens at a great time. I don’t expect this to be a great game at all. The Ravens have had their share of struggles with KC when fully healthy but between the injuries, the lack of continuity on the O-line and just the idea of this team not playing a lot of snaps together, that is a recipe for disaster against a team that is probably the best in the league.
The only thing I think that can keep this game close is if the Ravens run it 40+ times. The Browns had success running the ball last week and despite the abysmal performance by the offensive line vs the Raiders, they did seem to run block well. If they can control the clock and keep the defense fresh, especially the secondary (which was the issue on Monday night…Derek Carr had 168 yards passing and a low completion % 50 minutes into the game but yet he threw for 400+ yards in large part because the secondary was gassed), maybe they have a chance.
But I don’t think they will do that and I think the game could get ugly. I also don’t think this game getting ugly has any bearing on what happens long term this season or is some referendum on the talent and upside of this team. It’s just a work in progress to begin the year with everything that has gone wrong so far. 0-2 this year is different because you have the extra game.
Chiefs 38 Ravens 17
I wish I could tell you I had a higher degree of optimism going into this game… but maybe the bold predictions can speak some good into existence!
— Lamar and Ty’Son each go over 75 yards rushing.
— Hollywood finds the end zone for the second week in a row on a deep shot from Lamar. Consecutive plays pounding the run force the Chiefs defense to stack the box, and the feed to Hollywood goes 40+ yards to the crib.
— After seeing Darren Waller being fed over and over last week, the defense clamps down on the tight end and holds Travis Kelce to single-digit catches and under 65 yards.
— Boldest of all given the recent string of bad luck: no Ravens end up in the blue tent and we make it out of this game without adding any more names to the Injury Report. Fingers crossed.
Chiefs 34 Ravens 21
There’s no sugarcoating this one: this is going to be a rough night for the Baltimore Ravens. I hope I’m wrong, but it’s tough to see how the Ravens keep up with the Chiefs on Sunday night.
A banged-up offensive line will struggle against Frank Clark and Chris Jones, but Villanueva will look better at left tackle than he did at right tackle last week.
Lamar still gets sacked a few times, but he gets the ball out quicker in general, resulting in fewer overall pressures. He also won’t commit a turnover.
Mahomes will throw for more than 400 yards, but the Ravens’ defense will force at least one turnover. I think Marlon Humphrey gets his first forced fumble of the year.
The Ravens blitz less than they usually do, and it works for the first half. But at halftime, Reid and Mahomes figure the defense out, and in the third quarter, Hill and Kelce tire the defense out.
Watkins and Brown will have a second solid week as a 1-2 punch at WR, totaling 150 yards and a touchdown between them.
Oweh and Queen both pick up their second sacks, as the two players fast enough to catch the sneaky-quick Mahomes.
The Ravens run for over 200 yards, but can’t keep up through the air.
Chiefs 34 Ravens 24
Ok guys, pep talk time.
No, it’s not looking good. The defense is banged up, Ronnie is out, and Alejandro Villanueva is at left tackle now.
But you know what?
The Ravens just might be able to pull this off.
Fans are back at the bank. That should be enough to get the Ravens back into their mojo.
As our fearless offensive leader Greg Roman has said, the Ravens will be using a running back committee. The only Raven who comes close to rushing for 100 yards will be Lamar. Throw on 200 passing yards to complement that with four total TDs, two in the air, two on the ground.
Oweh will be giving the Chiefs’ tackles fits all night and will get to Mahomes twice. Houston will get him once.
The big boys on the D-Line interior will hold the Chiefs running game to under 75 total yards.
Mahomes will be Mahomes, but Lamar will trade shots with him.
Ravens 35 Chiefs 30
The Ravens are in a must-win situation on Sunday night against the formidable Chiefs. Baltimore is down a number of players due to injury, but I believe we’ll see them fight in this game.
— Lamar Jackson is efficient and throws for 2 TD passes, one to Andrews and one to Watkins, who goes over 100 yards.
— The backfield of Freeman, Murray and Williams rushes for over 150 yards on KC.
— Odafe Oweh notches his second NFL sack in as many games, but it’s the only time Baltimore takes down Mahomes.
While it’s unfortunate to fall to 0-2, the Ravens are simply too banged up to hang with the Chiefs for 48 minutes.
Chiefs 38 Ravens 20