By Samuel Njoku
The Ravens were manhandled last Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. Their streak of consecutive games being decided by eight points or less was halted after Seattle defeated Baltimore 35-6. Now Baltimore will turn their attention to the Kansas City Chiefs, another playoff hopeful looking to continue their string of victories.
The Kansas City Chiefs are (8-5) and attempting to keep pace with the Denver Broncos (10-3). They are winners of seven straight and have picked up impressive wins against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, and aforementioned Denver Broncos.
Chiefs on Offense
The Chiefs were primarily a one-man wrecking machine when Jamaal Charles was cemented at running back. But with his injury, the team has had to take a much different approach when it comes to putting points on the board. Kansas City still relies heavily on the running attack however. Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware make up a dynamic two-back attack that has given most teams fits since the loss of Charles. Though Baltimore has had much success against the run, expect the Chiefs to continue to get those two involved in the offense.
Alex Smith will also be a factor in this contest. Against the Chiefs, Smith rushed for 40 yards on five attempts. That means the Ravens will need to keep an eye on him as he has shown the ability to extend plays with his legs. Wide Receivers Jeremy Maclin and Albert Wilson will try to replicate the performance of Seattle’s Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett who finished with five touchdowns. Baltimore will need to improve in the secondary in order to prevent that type of success.
Chiefs on Defense
When you defense holds a team to three points on the day, you’re doing something right. That was the case for the Chiefs against the San Diego Chargers last Sunday. They’ll look to bring that level of play when they face off against Baltimore. The Ravens offense has taken a nose dive as far as production is concerned with the loss of Joe Flacco, Steve Smith and Justin Forsett. The Chiefs must be smelling blood in that respect. Rookie cornerback Marcus Peters has made a strong case for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He’ll probably line up across either Kamar Aiken or Jeremy Butler.
Justin Houston has been out with a knee injury and outside linebacker Dee Ford has taken it upon himself to pick up the slack. He was all over the field on Sunday against the Chargers and will attempt to keep it going against a Ravens team that struggled to protect their quarterback.
Chiefs’ Players to Watch
Jeremy Maclin is a man to be feared for sure. Many wondered if he would still be the same player after he left Chip Kelly’s high octane offense. He’s alleviated all concerns with his stellar play for the Chiefs. Maclin is a better receiver than either Doug Baldwin or Tyler Lockett, so he will be a huge focal point for Baltimore on Sunday.
The safety position has lost it’s flair since future Hall of Famers like Ed Reed have retired. Eric Berry may not be quite at the level of an Ed Reed, but he’s pretty darn close. Whoever starts at QB for the Ravens on Sunday, they’ll need to pay extremely close attention to where he is at the football field. Misreading the defense can have dire consequences when a player of his caliber is involved.
This won’t be quite the blow-out that Ravens fans had to endure when the Seahawks embarrassed Baltimore last Sunday. But the Chiefs and Ravens are headed in two very different directions. Expect the Ravens to fall to 4-10.
Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.