Mike Preston: Ravens need to show poise more than anything else against Chiefs

By Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Football

There hasn't been any need.

The Ravens beat the Browns by 32 points and the Texans by 17. Jackson has completed 38 of 49 passes for 479 yards and four touchdowns, but most of those throws have been in the middle of the field, with many coming on short-to-intermediate crossing routes. He has a completion rate of 77.6% and a passer rating of 134.6, but what happens when he has to go deep down the field outside the numbers? Can he throw those deep comeback routes, or even short hitch patterns that require passes to be high, tight and outside?

Kansas City will present the Ravens defense with some problems as well. Mahomes is off to another strong start, having completed 51 of 79 passes for 513 yards and five touchdowns. He has had great success against the Ravens, throwing for 377 yards and two touchdowns in 2018 and for 374 yards and three touchdowns last year. Some of the game's best matchups will feature Ravens cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters against Chiefs receivers Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins.

The Ravens, though, have to find someone who can slow down Kelce. In the Ravens' 27-24 overtime loss in Kansas City in 2018, Kelce had seven catches for 77 yards and one touchdown. Last year, Kelce had seven receptions for 89 yards in a 33-28 victory.

That's another reason for the Ravens to try and control the game by running the ball. If you are going to beat the Chiefs, you have to keep Mahomes off the field, Kelce on the bench and not get caught up in the arms race.

The Ravens need to stay disciplined and do what they do well, which last season was being the best rushing team in NFL history. If they need to get into a shootout, so be it.


But there is no hurry. There is no reason to overreact.

"I don't think you can ignore it. The guys understand that," Harbaugh said of playing the Chiefs. "You can't sit there and pretend. Every game is important; that's the thing. It is true, because they all count for wins, and you don't want to mess up one that the fans or somebody else might not think is important. But who wouldn't get excited for a game like this?

"When you're playing a team that is the defending champs, the favorites to win the whole thing again - going forward - the type of players they have, the coaches they have, the head coach, Coach (Andy) Reid, you're going to get excited about it. It's not something that we downplay. We don't ignore it. We try to embrace it and make the most of it, really. That's what we try to do."

Now, just stay in character.

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