Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs 01-09-2011

January 7, 2011

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Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday January 9th, 2011 1:00 PM EST

Line: Baltimore -2

Overview:

The Chiefs finished this season 7-1 at home, with the only blemish on their home record coming in the last week of the season against their division foe, the Oakland Raiders. The Chiefs are easily one of the biggest surprises of the 2010 season. This week, a number of their players have been suffering from flu like symptoms. They will need to be at full strength on Sunday if they want to come away with a victory against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Ravens are not new to the playoff scene. At 12-4, the Ravens were unable to obtain a division championship, as the Steelers had the tie breaker over them. For that reason, they will only not receiver the first round bye Pittsburgh is enjoying, but they also have to go on the road for Wild Card weekend. Not just anywhere either, Arrowhead. It is one of the biggest home field advantages in football. There is a reason the Chiefs are 7-1 at home and 3-5 on the road.

Keys to the Game:

  • Matt Cassel has really made a name for himself this season. Say what you will about him having the best running game in the league to distract defenses from the passing game. Cassel has one real threat at wide out and still manages to excel. Lift the game manager tag that hangs over his head. Cassel has a 93 QB rating and has thrown 20 more touchdowns than interceptions this season. The Chiefs crumbled when he sat out after his emergency appendectomy. He might not be the most talented or productive player on their roster, but he certainly is the most important. Teams have been abusing the Ravens through the air this season and the Chiefs will need to take advantage, should the Ravens put a stop to the Chiefs’ rush attack.
  • The Ravens can win even when Ray Rice doesn’t show up, but when he is playing up to his potential, they dominate. Joe Flacco has Anquan Boldin to throw to, but equally important to the passing game is Rice. He is one of the best receiving backs in the entire NFL. He is one of the few backs in the NFL whose rushing yards in a game don’t always match up to his receiving numbers. In essence, he is the complete back. Kansas City is middle of the road at stopping both the run and pass, so look for them to struggle at finding a way to contain Rice.

Key Matchup:

The Ravens Run ‘D’ Vs. The Chiefs’ Run Game

  • It got them to this point, so there is no reason to believe that the Chiefs are going to stray away from their run game. Jamaal Charles had a career year this season, even with Thomas Jones soaking up a healthy amount of carries. The Chiefs are the best team in the league when it comes to running the football. Teams know the run is coming and they still struggle to control the Chiefs’ run game, even when they put eight or nine in the box.
  • It’s no surprise, but the Ravens have a top 5 run defense. Led by Ray Lewis, the Ravens are not going to allow the Chiefs to run at will. That doesn’t mean that the Chiefs aren’t going to be effective at running the football, but the Ravens will certainly make their presence felt to start this game off. If Kansas City starts to get pass happy, Baltimore has done their job.

Wrap Up:

I expect this to be a low scoring game. Both teams value running the ball and field position so much that this one will probably not turn into a shoot out. It will be interesting to see how big of a factor the noise at Arrowhead plays. The Ravens are seemingly a better, more experienced team, but will that be enough for them to overcome going into that hostile of an environment?

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