(CBS Baltimore/CBS Local) — The Baltimore Ravens face a much tougher challenge in Week 3, when they go to Kansas City to face the Chiefs. This will be one of Sunday’s better games, as prolific offenses light up the scoreboard. Lamar Jackson will face Patrick Mahomes in a matchup of exciting young quarterbacks. Jackson has two solid weeks as a dual-threat quarterback after mixed results in the latter half of last season. Mahomes, of course, is the reigning NFL MVP.
As Bob Pompeani, sports anchor at KDKA in Pittsburgh, sees it, “You’ve got two of the best going at it right here. This is the marquee game of the weekend to me.”
The Ravens come in flying high, after dismantling the Miami Dolphins and grounding the Arizona Cardinals. Jackson threw for 324 yards and five touchdowns on 17-20 passing in Week 1. The Ravens scored 42 points in the first half, and Jackson didn’t even have to finish the game. The Cardinals posed a stiffer challenge in Week 2, but Jackson still compiled 272 passing yards, going 24-37 with two more TDs, and 120 more rushing.
“John Harbaugh has completely revamped what they do, to center on Lamar Jackson,” according to Pompeani. “I think he’s proved a lot of people wrong, that yes, he can throw the ball from the pocket… seven touchdowns in two weeks so far. But he’s also showed you, more so last week, that he can still put it away and run with the best of them. So it’s a really difficult game plan, if you’re a defensive coordinator, to try and stop them.”
The Ravens should have no trouble putting up points against a suspect Chiefs defense, which let Jacksonville Jaguars’ Gardiner Minshew, a rookie sixth-round pick, throw for 275 yards and two TDS in relief of the injured Nick Foles in Week 1. But can they slow down Mahomes and the Chiefs’ dangerous passing attack?
Mahomes has picked up right where he left off, going 25-33 for 378 yards and three touchdowns to open the season and following that up with a 30-44, 443-yard, four-touchdown performance. Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson and Travis Kelce have all logged 100-plus-yard receiving days. The running game remains secondary — LeSean McCoy did pick up 81 yards on 10 carries in the opener — but offensive production hasn’t suffered.
Pompeani marveled at the young KC QB. “You’ve got Pat Mahomes, who, at 24, has done so many remarkable things. What I love about him is his ability to just go to work happy everyday. And he tries to get better. And you wonder how far that can take him.” It can probably take him pretty far, as the Chiefs look to move past the AFC Championship this season.
The difference this week could come down to defense, and that’s where the Ravens have a distinct advantage, with one of the NFL’s better units. In last season’s Week 14 matchup between these two teams, defense gave the Ravens a chance. This year’s unit has some new personnel, with Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley gone, but Earl Thomas now anchoring the defensive backfield. If they can minimized Mahomes’ touches, Jackson will have a better chance.
“This should be a wonderful game to watch,” says Pompeani. “I do expect the Chiefs to win. But I think it will be a high-scoring affair, and I would expect to see both of those guys (Jackson and Mahomes) have big days. So I’m saying that it’s going to be Kansas City 35, Baltimore 29.”
The Ravens play the Chiefs Sunday @ 1 p.m. ET on CBS.