The Kansas City Chiefs are winners of seven in a row and now face a Baltimore Ravens team that’s coming off a 35-6 loss to Seattle. On the surface this should be a cakewalk game for the Chiefs, but there’s still a lot of important areas to watch for on both sides of the ball.
The Chiefs have started slow in each of their past three games, but have eventually overcome their struggles. Against a less than stellar Ravens team, Kansas City can really put any hopes Baltimore has of competing down the drain if they start fast. Another rough first quarter might keep the Ravens hanging around, much like the Chargers did.
Kansas City’s biggest problem against San Diego was with the mental mistakes, most notably with the turnovers and penalties. Eight penalties really set the Chiefs attack back, two of which took away a big punt return and a possible touchdown. Frankie Hammond Jr. fumbled a punt for the second straight week as well, and how special teams coach Dave Toub will handle the inconsistencies should be a key factor.
Travis Kelce and Jaye Howard are two of Kansas City’s most penalized players; Sunday will be another test to see if their talent can continue to outweigh their mistakes. The player who did show raw talent last week was outside linebacker Dee Ford. The former first round draft pick will aim to continue to grow in place of the injured Justin Houston.
Ford racked up a career high seven tackles and three sacks in the victory, as well as covering Chargers running back Danny Woodhead on the game’s final play. With Ford playing well and Allen Bailey returning from injury, the Chiefs front seven pose as a sizeable threat even without Houston.
Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson hope to continue their veteran reemergence as the former pro-bowlers are playing at a very high level, while rookie corner Marcus Peters is as well. Peters has a knack for the turnover and should get many opportunities against Baltimore’s turnover prone backup quarterback, Matt Schaub.
Offensively, Albert Wilson is coming off a huge 77-yard performance where he also caught his second career touchdown pass. With opponent’s focusing more and more on Jeremy Maclin, the Chiefs attack will need to expand Wilson’s role to free up the press coverage on the more talented Maclin and Kelce.
Even if all this goes right for Kansas City, it’s not a guaranteed win. Coming off a bad loss, the Ravens still are a respected franchise with a solid coach and likely will come out with more energy than before. Despite their 4-9 record, eight of their losses have come within one possession and their average loss margin is just 4.25 points in that span.
This would have been a tough matchup at the start of the year, but no team has dealt with more injuries than Baltimore. Joe Flacco, Dennis Pitta, Chris Canty, Steve Smith Jr., Justin Forsett, Breshard Perriman, and Terrell Suggs are all Raven starters who are sidelined with injuries. The Chiefs have some of their own as they’ll be without Houston, De’Anthony Thomas, and Hussain Abdullah, while Spencer Ware and Jeff Allen remain questionable.
If the Chiefs can play as a more disciplined team that takes care of the ball and avoids penalties, they should be able to top Baltimore. If they continue to improve their offensive attack and relentless defensive turnover machine, it might not be close. A turnover battle victory over Baltimore would most likely result in an 8th straight win for Kansas City, as the Chiefs have their sights set on Schaub in the Ravens’ backfield.
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Kickoff from Baltimore between the Chiefs and Ravens is set for noon on KCTV5.
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