Editor’s note: We welcome Managing Editor Kyle P. Barber of Baltimore Beatdown — our sister site covering the Baltimore Ravens — for Five Questions with the Enemy as we head into the Week 3 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Ravens on Monday.
1) It’s been just over a year since the Chiefs and Ravens last played one another. How different are the Ravens a year on?
The Ravens feel different this season — though I don’t mean it as, “Everybody watch out for these Ravens!” I mean it more as they’re not the same pieces as last season. The passing game has been more involved — and the lack of Marshal Yanda has been visible in the run game. You’d think with over 200 rushing yards against the Texans that Baltimore simply used the same game plan of 2019, but the first half was not a run-heavy scheme.
On defense, it’s a unique change. To those that don’t know, the Ravens spent money and picks improving the defense at any and all spots possible. They traded for Calais Campbell. They signed Derek Wolfe. They drafted Patrick Queen in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft and followed up with Malik Harrison in the third round. I believe this team does understand the stakes of the game more than last season. While last season, the mantra was all about winning a Super Bowl, I believe this team recognizes you don’t make it there without becoming a better football team — and how easily you can falter.
2) How would you stop Lamar Jackson if you were the Chiefs defensive coordinator?
Jackson’s ability to both pass and run has grown exponentially, causing fits for opposing defenses. If you watch the Week 1 matchup against the Browns, you can see the game plan was to force him to throw. He did so and burned the Browns many times.
In Week 2, the Texans brought a similar but better game plan. They shut down Mark Andrews and forced Jackson to throw elsewhere. I think this was a success — though the final score argues otherwise. I think this was something the Chiefs will be interested in doing. Mark Andrews is the best receiving weapon on the Ravens’ roster — and I’d opt to also ensure Andrews’ doesn’t have an enjoyable afternoon.
As for the rest, you just have to hope your defensive line and pass rush gets to him fast enough — without selling out on blitzing a bunch of players and him finding a running lane. If you can stick with four-man rushes that create pressure and collapse the pocket, you can make any quarterback struggle.
3) Apart from Patrick Mahomes, which Chiefs player do you fear the most?
Travis Kelce is the name that comes to mind.
I’m not sure the Ravens have a guy (or combination) that can account for Kelce on a snap-to-snap basis. He’s a talented tight end — and I don’t think I need to pump his tires here too much. Jimmy Smith has been a name that could possibly play man against Kelce, but I’m just not sure if that works. Also, this is Queen’s third NFL game as a starting middle linebacker. I’m sure that will be a point-to target by Kelce/Mahomes.
4) Do you think the fact that this game will be played in an empty stadium will affect the result?
Full stadium, I think Baltimore takes this — just like the close games in Kansas City ending in the Chiefs’ favor.
I think these teams are brilliantly talented — and the edge really could just come down to home field advantage. But a stadium hosting only 250 fans — which are close relatives or employees of the Ravens? Not really the same thing.
Ravens fans are hungry to watch them take down the Chiefs. It’s been a great series of games, and I’m confident Chiefs fans understand you want all the success for your highly-talented team. The Chiefs have bested Baltimore the past two seasons — and our stadium, without being constructed to maximize noise, may have come close to a decibel record if packed to the brim this season for this matchup specifically.
5) Everyone will talk about Patrick vs. Lamarm but we all know the real rivalry in this matchup is Justin Tucker vs. Harrison Butker. Do you think this game will be close enough that one of the two kickers could end up kicking a game-winner?
Absolutely. I expect this to come down to a field goal. These are the two most accurate kickers in NFL history right now — and I don’t doubt this will be a possibility. I’m of course hoping it’s a Tucker completion or a Butker miss — but the latter is highly unlikely, given his incredible success.
I don’t enjoy giving predictions — but if I must, I’ll give my biased prediction: 33-30 Ravens. A Justin Tucker field goal seals it.