Ravens to host defending champion Kansas City in AFC title game

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Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City were inevitable.

After besting Buffalo in a 27-24 final in the divisional round on Sunday night, the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs will take on the Ravens in the first AFC championship game played in Baltimore in 53 years. For Lamar Jackson and the No. 1 seed Ravens, it’s the opportunity to take down the team that’s been the NFL’s gold standard since Tom Brady left New England with Kansas City having advanced to three of the last four Super Bowls, winning two of them.

These teams haven’t met since Week 2 of the 2021 season, a game in which Jackson and the Ravens bested the Chiefs in a 36-35 Sunday night thriller at M&T Bank Stadium. Kansas City had won the first three matchups in the Mahomes-Jackson era. Sunday will mark the second postseason clash between the franchises after the Ravens won 30-7 at Arrowhead Stadium in the 2010 wild-card round.

Though Kansas City will be playing in its sixth consecutive AFC championship game, this is the first in which the Chiefs will be on the road and serving as the underdog. Mahomes wasted little time complimenting the Ravens after securing the first road playoff victory of his career in beating the Bills.

“There’s no weakness there. It’s going to take our best effort,” Mahomes said in an on-field interview with CBS Sports. “Defense, offense, special teams, they do it all. It’s always a great challenge, and that stadium is going to be rocking, so we’re excited for the challenge.”

Of course, this matchup also brings a compelling coaching story with John Harbaugh having served on Andy Reid’s staff in Philadelphia for eight years — seven as his special teams coordinator — before being hired as Baltimore’s head coach in 2008. Reid holds a 5-2 advantage in meetings with Harbaugh and a 4-1 record since becoming Kansas City’s head coach in 2013.

This will be the Ravens’ first AFC title game appearance in 11 years as they look to advance to the Super Bowl for the third time in franchise history.

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