The 12-4 Ravens versus the 10-6 Chiefs. The Chiefs are a run first team, led by Jamaal Charles who averages 6.38 yards per carry. They also have Thomas Jones who is an 11 year veteran. Charles is definitely the bigger threat because of his quick bursts and tackle breaking, but Jones is a very physical between the tackle runner. The Ravens usually don’t stop runners who they’ve never played before such as Peyton Hillis. This year the Ravens allowed Peyton Hillis 144 yards rushing and they had never seen him before, this is the same situation as Jamaal Charles. Jamaal Charles is a physical back with good speed just like Peyton Hillis and he is fresh since the Chiefs didn’t play him very much versus the Raiders. Charles is probably going to have a 100 yard game, but that does not mean that the Chiefs will win. The Chiefs also have to rely on the Cassell to Bowe connection, which has been the best in the NFL since week 8. The Raiders stopped this by pressure on the quarterback and bump and cover by Dwayne Bowe. The Ravens cornerbacks play 8-10 yards off of the ball, and to be an elite corner in the NFL you have to be physical with receivers. The Chiefs like to set up the pass with play action, but if the Ravens can stop Charles from averaging 6.38 yards per carry, then the play action doesn’t work and Cassell to Bowe is stopped. The Ravens will need to rely on their big men up front starting with Haloti Ngata, who is a premier defensive tackle in the NFL. However, Greg Mattison has him playing defensive end and that is not his best fit. The linebackers need to stay in their gaps, so Charles can’t get back and have a long run. The Ravens need to play good defense, or their offense needs to score 30 points.
The Ravens offense has had their ups and downs this year. They have had great games where everything would click, but they’ve had games where nothing has clicked. They have had games where Anquan Boldin has done great and then Mason has done nothing, but there have been games where Mason has done everything. The running game has been average at best this year while in their previous playoff appearances they have had a very good run game. The Ravens acquired Boldin, Stallworth, and Houshmanzadah in hope that their passing game would be very good. Flacco had over 3500 yards this year, but the offense wasn’t as good as expected. Boldin is the most physical receiver in the NFL and the Ravens don’t use him in that way like the Cardinals did. Mason is an amazing route runner, but he runs the same curl every time. One of these times Mason should run a double move because the opposing team wouldn’t expect it since he never runs it. Another thing that Cameron could do is send Stallworth on a route instead of putting him in for a reverse and then taking him out. In training camp the Ravens said how Stallworth had great speed and good hands, but nobody has seen it. The Ravens offensive lines has had set backs due to injuries. Jared Gaither who started left tackle in 14 games in 2009-2010 regular season, he missed 2 due to a neck injury. This forced right tackle Michael Oher to play left tackle, which meant Marshall Yanda had to play right tackle. Yanda was used in a lot of unbalanced line plays last year, and the best block he had was versus the Patriots in the playoffs. Matt Birk sealed Vince Wilfork and Yanda pulled sealing the other side and Ray Rice was off for a touchdown. The offensive line has not given Flacco as much time as he needs, and this may be because in practice the Ravens defense doesn’t get pressure on him. The offense will need to be better than they were against the Bengals in their season finale or they will not get very far in the playoffs.
Prediction: 30-24 Ravens
I predict the Ravens will win due to the lack of experience of the Chiefs. The Ravens have been to the playoffs the last 2 years, and a lot of their players have the experience. The Chiefs on the other hand haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006. The don’t have the same experience, but the Chiefs will put up a good fight. The Chiefs will probably have the lead in parts of the game, but the lack of experience will catch up in the 4th quarter. I also think that the Ravens offense will finally click and score some points. The offense will be able to run and in order to win, Ray Rice needs to have 100 yards rushing or more. The only way the Ravens passing attack will work is if Anquan Boldin gets involved early. The defense needs to put pressure on Cassell or he will pick them apart. The Ravens will take the lead in the 4th and the defense will hold the Chiefs.