Like the majority of Earthlings, most of the Arrowhead Pride staff thought that in the season’s most-anticipated Monday Night Football game, the Kansas City Chiefs would A) narrowly defeat the Baltimore Ravens or B) narrowly lose to them. But when our Craig Stout is right, he’s right.
The Chiefs will put together a good game plan against the Ravens, picking up chunk plays against the blitz and first downs on the legs of Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The Chiefs defense will be up to the task, tackling better early in the game — and pressuring Lamar Jackson into some hurried throws. Chiefs win by 10 and the hype train picks up steam. Chiefs 34, Ravens 24
As it happened, the Chiefs dominated the Ravens 34-20, advancing to 3-0 on the season. Our immediate coverage of the game included a rapid reaction to another 3-0 start and a somewhat lopsided list of winners and losers. It wasn’t hard to tell which was which.
Steve Spagnuolo and Andy Reid: This team came ready to play. Reid was creative on offense, pulling out plays we’ve never seen before. They spread the ball around, executed, and went after the Ravens’ weaknesses. The defense was aggressive and tough all night, with four sacks, three forced fumbles and only 13 points allowed against a really good offense; holding Lamar Jackson to only 97 yards passing meant that his 83 yards rushing just didn’t matter. Injuries didn’t matter much, either; the Chiefs were without Andrew Wylie on offense and lost L’Jarius Sneed on defense — and didn’t miss a beat.
On Tuesday morning, John Dixon continued our coverage with his customary list of knowledge we accumulated from the game.
4. Amazing streaks always come to an end
Someday, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes will lose a game in September. Someday, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson will win a game against Mahomes. Someday, the NFL’s regular-season passing leader will win a Super Bowl.
But so far, none of those things have happened. We just know that eventually, they will happen.
We had to say goodbye to one such streak on Monday night, as the Ravens’ rookie wide receiver Devin Duvernay returned a Chiefs kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. It may seem hard to believe, but ever since Dave Toub became special teams coordinator of the Chiefs in 2013, that had never happened.
After Week 2, a significant number national NFL writers had decided to rank the Ravens ahead of the Chiefs — but on Tuesday, they saw the error of their ways. Our own power rankings poll identified two strong teams scheduled to play the Chiefs over the next three weeks.
5. New England Patriots (5th)
Their win against the Raiders is the type of game that separates the contenders from the pretenders. The Patriots are certainly contenders — but they desperately need to give Cam Newton some receivers.
6. Buffalo Bills (9th)
This team may not win a Super Bowl any time soon, but the Josh Allen experience is a lot of fun. I can’t imagine it’s good for tickers of Bills fans, though.
As always, we took a deep dive into the snap counts from Monday’s victory, looking for trends.
· Michael Danna continues to be on the field for roughly half of the defensive snaps.
· Tanoh Kpassagnon’s use remains pretty stable — but for the first time this season, he was used a bit more often in passing plays.
· Linebacker Ben Niemann’s snap percentages have been trending down since Week 1. Against the Ravens — just as in the first week of the season — he was used more often on passing plays.
· Rookie linebacker Willie Gay Jr. was on the field for about a fifth of the defensive snaps. He was used much more often on running plays.
On Wednesday, word came that the team’s fourth-round rookie had a more serious injury than we had hoped.
We anticipate Sneed could be placed on injured reserve, with the typical recovery time for a broken collarbone between six and eight weeks.
So many factors in collarbone breaks. Location, severity, surgical v non.— Aaron Borgmann (@RehabAllStar) September 30, 2020
General rule of thumb if surgery is ~6 weeks, if non surgical, less. https://t.co/jnBmyaeGuz
As for this week’s game against the Patriots, the problem is that nominal starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland still has one week remaining on his four-week NFL suspension. So through this weekend’s game against the New England Patriots, the Chiefs will be razor-thin at the position.
On Wednesday afternoon, Sneed on was placed on the injured reserve list; practice squad linebacker Darius Harris took his place on the roster.
Speaking to reporters, the Chiefs quarterback talked about the latest news from his household: he and his fiancé Brittany Mathhews are expecting.
“It’s extremely exciting,” Mahomes explained on Wednesday, “being able to grow up and have these dreams of having a family and playing in the NFL, and for that stuff to start happening and really coming into truth and everything like that, it’s really cool. I’m just excited that I have a lot of great people around me and I’m in a great organization and I’m able to live out these dreams day by day.”
Mahomes was asked by reporters which teammate might make the best honorary “uncle” for his growing family.
“I would say Matt Moore — or someone like that — that’s responsible,” he replied. “I can’t let like Trav (Travis Kelce) or anybody do it. You’d never know what would happen.”
From Tuesday’s injury report, we learned Chris Jones was being limited in practice. We got better news the next day.
· Defensive tackle Chris Jones was limited (groin) for the second day in a row.
· Defensive end Alex Okafor (hamstring) practiced fully for the first time since Week 1 on Thursday. He is tracking to play on Sunday after missing two games.
On Friday, we learned that the Chiefs were being favored by a historic margin in their upcoming game with the Patriots — and our Ron Kopp gave us some items to keep an eye on in the game.
1. The Patriots’ plan to slow down Mahomes
Belichick is as far from dumb as an NFL head coach could possibly be. So when he sits down to create a way to stop Mahomes and the Chiefs offense, he won’t be stealing much from the Baltimore Ravens’ game plan.
Instead, he’ll be fascinated with the effect that the Los Angeles Chargers’ defense had on Kansas City. The Chargers have blitzed less frequently than any other team; in their Week 2 matchup against the Chiefs, they rarely sent second-level players to get after Mahomes — instead trusting the four defensive linemen to create enough pressure. Their ability to cover with seven players — while also wreaking havoc in the pocket — disrupted Mahomes, forcing the Chiefs to pick up the win with an overtime field goal.
The Patriots will want to try a similar tactic. Their most dangerous pass-rushing threat this year has been second-year edge defender Chase Winovich. He has the 13th-most pressures in the NFL — including four quarterback hits and two other plays where he got in on a sack.
But on Saturday, things quickly went sideways. First we learned that Patriots quarterback Cam Newton had tested positive for COVID-19 — and then that the same thing had happened to Chiefs practice squad quarterback Jordan Ta’amu. The strangest year in NFL history rolled on.
Here is the NFL’s official statement:
“The New England-Kansas City game scheduled for 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday will be rescheduled to Monday or Tuesday after positive COVID-19 tests on both teams. In consultation with infectious disease experts, both clubs are working closely with the NFL and the NFLPA to evaluate multiple close contacts, perform additional testing and monitor developments. All decisions will be made with the health and safety of players, team and gameday personnel as our primary consideration.”