With the Ravens trying to shake off the disappointing Week 1 loss and finally beat defending AFC champion Kansas City for the first time since 2012 on Sunday night, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Pressure is the one-word theme for Week 2. Pressure to finally beat the Chiefs and avoid the 0-2 start. The need to pressure Patrick Mahomes and keep it off Lamar Jackson. The pressure to not feel snake-bitten after so many personnel losses. That’s all easier said than done. Pressure.
2. Finishing Friday with 10 notable contributors — and five others — on injured reserve, the Ravens ruled out Derek Wolfe and officially listed Ronnie Stanley and five others as questionable on the final injury report for Sunday night. At least Marquise Brown returned to practice on Friday.
3. Despite much focus being on the defensive shortcomings in these losses to Kansas City, Baltimore has failed to crack 30 points in any of those games. Yes, you need to get some stops, but Jackson and this offense must score and score a bunch to beat the Chiefs.
4. Though Wink Martindale labeled the contrast between his aggressive style and Kansas City’s success against the blitz “a fun chess match,” Mahomes owns a 134.0 passer rating against the Ravens’ blitz, per Pro Football Focus. Might we see more simulated pressures before dropping defenders into coverage?
5. Martindale discussed the need to stop Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, but that made me think back to last year when Mahomes threw touchdowns to retired Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman and former left tackle Eric Fisher. Is Andy Reid concocting a touchdown play for the punter this time around?
6. On 17 combined targets over three games against the Chiefs, Mark Andrews has caught six passes for 37 yards. The Ravens must find a way to get their standout tight end more involved to have the best chance to win this one.
7. The hope is to have Jimmy Smith back on the field for Sunday night, but rookie Brandon Stephens is another interesting chess piece who could hear his name called against Kelce over the course of the game. His versatility becomes even more important with the current health concerns at cornerback.
8. Having moved to defensive end, Chris Jones is a tough matchup for any offensive tackle, but the two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman going up against potential fill-in starter Patrick Mekari on the right side is scary. Expect much help for him and Alejandro Villanueva from Patrick Ricard and Eric Tomlinson.
9. Orlando Brown Jr. surrendered five pressures and struggled against Cleveland star Myles Garrett in his Kansas City debut, so it will be interesting to see how Justin Houston and Odafe Oweh fare against the ex-Raven. Baltimore must find a way to disrupt Mahomes without blitzing.
10. I respect Sammy Watkins for being honest about having little problem being a “snitch” when it comes to sharing secrets about his former team. It usually doesn’t amount to much, but it’s common practice in the NFL. How did refraining from that work out for Eric Weddle two years ago?
11. In 2019, four starters on the offensive line played 939 or more snaps and the Ravens used the same starting lineup for the first 11 games that season before Matt Skura went down with the knee injury and Mekari stepped in relatively seamlessly. That feels like a long time ago.
12. Since 1990, just 11.6 percent of teams starting a season 0-2 have made the playoffs, but that 258-team sample mostly consisted of outfits expected to be bad anyway. Even with the injuries, this is still a good team, and the season is far from over with a defeat on Sunday.