With the Ravens preparing to host defending champion Kansas City in what’s being hyped as the game of the year on Monday Night Football, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. The lost pomp and circumstance of a near-empty stadium is a given by now, but not having 71,000 screaming fans creating a living hell for Patrick Mahomes trying to adjust to Baltimore’s “amoeba” fronts at the line of scrimmage hurts, especially after playing at Arrowhead the last two times.
2. Upon reviewing the Chiefs’ performance in Week 2, you can talk yourself into the overtime win reflecting more vulnerability for the defending champs in 2020 or those struggles against the Los Angeles Chargers in an empty stadium serving as a wake-up call. I’m inclined to believe the latter.
3. The defense showed last year that the Tavon Young injury is no reason for long-term concern, but Wink Martindale would probably prefer having another game or two to evaluate and tweak his secondary before this one. Marlon Humphrey moved to the slot the week after the Chiefs loss last year.
4. Acknowledging Lamar Jackson’s sensational play from the pocket, Greg Roman still needs to fight the urge to go toe to toe with Andy Reid’s passing attack. Until proven otherwise, the Ravens are at their best running the ball and passing when they want to — not when feeling they have to.
5. The Chargers exploited the Kansas City linebackers, who have struggled to tackle and cover as running backs Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley combined for 157 yards rushing and six receptions for 104 receiving yards. This feels like the week to unleash J.K. Dobbins as a receiver out of the backfield.
6. The Ravens better have a plan for Pro Bowl defensive tackle Chris Jones, who’s a concerning matchup for either center Matt Skura or rookie right guard Tyre Phillips in pass protection. The offensive line was better than it looked at first glance in Week 2, but the interior remains vulnerable.
7. John Harbaugh being aggressive with fourth downs and two-point conversions came to the forefront in last year’s loss to Kansas City, and I expect the 13th-year coach to use similar tactics on Monday. Like when playing Baltimore now, you can’t expect to beat the Chiefs with punts and field goals.
8. I’m not big on ignoring postseason results for the sake of streaks, but the Ravens allowing no more than 21 points in 13 straight regular-season games is impressive and speaks to the stellar work done to retool the defense last October. Extending that streak to 14 will be tough, however.
9. Harrison Butker was sensational last Sunday and this game very well may come down to a dramatic field goal try, but some out there need to slam on the brakes with notions that he’s better than Justin Tucker after a little over three seasons in the NFL. That’s just disrespectful.
10. NFL Network noted that Miami’s win over Jacksonville Thursday night was the Dolphins’ first double-digit victory in nearly three years. In contrast, the Ravens have won 10 of their last 12 regular-season games by at least 14 points. We really are spoiled around here.
11. Baltimore last defeated the Chiefs in a 9-6 barn burner at Arrowhead in 2012 that featured a combined five field goals and six turnovers. Let’s just say I was glad to be covering postseason baseball that day.
12. Since the Ravens wearing their black jerseys always generates buzz, I’d like to see them with the purple pants, a combination worn just once (the 2018 regular-season finale). As long as the pants donned the last time the Chiefs came to Baltimore remain in mothballs, we shouldn’t have any problems.
— Luke Jones (@BaltimoreLuke) September 23, 2020