The last meeting between the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs was Week 1 of the 2009 regular season. The Ravens beat the Chiefs 38-24 and did so with an (at the time) atypical Ravens attack: Through the air. Ravens QB Joe Flacco was 26/43 and passed for 307 yards. He also added three passing TDs and one interception.
The Ravens' offense as a whole had 501 total yards, which was a franchise record. It was an offensive explosion in Week 1 for the typically conservative Ravens. It wasn't expected. Todd Haley said, "They threw the ball probably a lot more than we anticipated."
Well, what can the Chiefs' anticipate in this weekend's matchup against the Ravens?
I went back and checked out our posts and stats from that Week 1 game and I wanted to pass along a few items to spur some discussion about the upcoming Chiefs/Ravens matchup. I think there are some interesting lessons to learn here. The Chiefs and Ravens were tied at 24 with 5 minutes left in the game. It was a game the eventual 4-12 Chiefs could have won.
Here are some observations from this game that could be relevant to this weekend's matchup:
Brodie Croyle played really well. If you recall, Matt Cassel did not play this game because of a knee injury, which meant the Chiefs #2 man Brodie Croyle had to step up. And you have to admit he stepped up. Croyle was 16/24 passing for 177 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, he threw zero interceptions.
Basically, Croyle was able to give the Chiefs a chance to win against the Ravens. Clearly, Matt Cassel has that ability.
The Chiefs were terrible on third down but played it close. Like I said above, the Chiefs and Ravens were actually tied at 24 with about five minutes left in the game. That's with the Chiefs going 2-10 of on third down. The fact that the game was so close with such a bad showing by KC shows tons of potential for KC to win this game with an improved showing on third down.
If the Chiefs could bump that conversion rate to 50%, their odds of winning the game would sky rocket.
Turnovers were huge for the Chiefs. Jon McGraw blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone. Derrick Johnson picked off a Flacco pass in the third quarter and returned it for 70 yards. That set up the Chiefs' second touchdown. Two of the Chiefs' three touchdowns came directly off of turnovers.
The Chiefs played the Ravens close but they needed some help from Baltimore to do it.
The Chiefs didn't pressure Flacco enough. Obviously, when you have a passing game like Flacco did, your QB had time to throw. The Chiefs didn't hurry Flacco a single time and only had two tackles for a loss. Tamba Hali did manage to force a fumble on Flacco but that was the lone bright spot. Flacco had a lot of time to pass against the Chiefs.
The 2010 Chiefs' pass rush is clearly better than 2009's. I fully expect Flacco to feel the heat on Sunday.
So, are the 2010 Chiefs improved enough in some of these areas to beat the Baltimore Ravens? I think you can unequivocally say yes. I think the Chiefs are actually improved enough to not need the luck of two huge turnovers to win this game.
Here's a recap of the game if you want to review it.