Editor’s note: We welcome in contributor Kyle Barber of Baltimore Beatdown — our sister site covering the Baltimore Ravens — for “Five questions with the enemy” as we head into the Week 3 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Ravens, set to take place Sunday at Noon Arrowhead Time.
1) The concerns surrounding Lamar Jackson last year were his ability to throw the football. What have you seen in the season’s first two weeks to give you confidence he has become a more complete quarterback?
This is a fairly simple answer. Right now, Jackson is competing with Patrick Mahomes in the Most Valuable Player race. He’s delivered accurate throws and is currently 11th in passing yards and tied with Mahomes for seven passing touchdowns and zero interceptions. They haven’t been wide open, either; he’s completing perfect strikes in tight coverage.
2) Why is the play-action game so effective for the Baltimore Ravens offense?
The threat of the Greg Roman run game forces defenses to stack the box and focus linebackers on stopping Jackson, Mark Ingram and company. All of Jackson’s tape last year shows a running offense, which only helps influence defenses into defending the run.
Truthfully, the Ravens offense screams, “We’re running,” but Ingram isn’t getting the ball.
3) Who is the offensive skill-position player to watch for the Ravens on Sunday? Why?
Most would point to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, but I’m going with tight end Mark Andrews. He’s currently leading all tight ends in receiving yards. He also has caught two touchdowns these past two games. He is for real. Jackson and Andrew’s chemistry is quite similar to Mahomes and Travis Kelce.
4) In your eyes, how does the Ravens defense as a whole match up with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ speed at their skill positions?
Thankfully, the Ravens aren’t defending against Tyreek Hill on Sunday. If Hill was on the field, they’d struggle. But with Hill out, the secondary’s job becomes easier. Earl Thomas can defend the deep end with Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr and Anthony Averett at cornerback ready for the deep threats. Last season, Eric Weddle was the free safety, and though Weddle is a great player, his range does not compare to Thomas’ coverage skills.
The difficulty will be Kelce. Chiefs fans know he’s too fast for linebackers and his physicality outmatches most cornerbacks. Watch for bracket coverage on Kelce.
5) The Chiefs were very close to acquiring safety Earl Thomas before the Ravens swooped in and added him this offseason. What has he brought to the table so far?
Incredible coverage. Everything you can expect from Thomas. He’s a commander of defense and his leadership combined with his playmaking is exactly what Baltimore needed after Ed Reed’s departure.
Bonus: score prediction
I’m horrible with score predictions but I’m here to play homer. Ravens 38-34.