Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is no stranger to high-profile matchups. Mahomes will face his biggest one of the season, heading into his sixth consecutive AFC Championship Game on Sunday, as he takes on the Baltimore Ravens with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.
It won’t be easy, though. For Mahomes and the rest of Kansas City’s offense, they must find a way to overcome an elite Baltimore defense. The Ravens’ defense ranks fifth in quarterback completion percentage (60.6%) and is tied for first in yards per pass attempt (5.9). Factoring in that they also lead the league with 60 sacks on the season, Baltimore’s defensive unit represents a complex challenge that has earned the praise of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
“They do a great job,” Reid noted of the Ravens’ defense. “Like I said (Ravens defensive coordinator) Mike [Macdonald], his scheme in which he’s added his touch, too, with the group there. They’ve got multiple fronts, multiple coverages, they execute them well. Other teams that try to do a lot, don’t do it as well as this group does. Not only are the players listening, but they’re being taught the right things, and they’re able to go out and perform at a high level.”
The Ravens are not only led by their strong defense but also by their quarterback — and current favorite to win league MVP — Lamar Jackson. As the unquestioned leader of the Ravens’ offense, Jackson is a big reason why they are the number-one seed in the AFC with an NFL-best 13 regular season wins.
“He’s going to be the MVP for a reason,” Mahomes said about Jackson. “He goes out there, he leads his team, he scores, he runs, he throws, he does whatever it takes to win, and that’s what the greats do. Like I said, it will be a great challenge for our defense, but also a great challenge for our offense going against their defense. It’s going to take a full team effort if we want to find a way to get a win.”
Jackson proved he is still one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the league due to his unique skill set as a runner, finishing the year with 821 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. Under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, Jackson is showcasing more of his improved passing abilities as well. He set career-highs with 3,678 passing yards and a completion percentage of 67.2%.
Mahomes revealed he always admired Jackson’s game from afar, but he is especially intrigued now by his development as a pocket passer as he looks ahead to Sunday’s matchup.
“I think the biggest thing you like to see in another quarterback is how they improve every single year,” Mahomes noted. “Everybody has talked about his running, but you can see how he’s developed as a passer. Throwing from within the pocket, arm angles, making the accurate throw in big situations and big moments. That’s what the great quarterbacks do. He continues to get better and better every single year. I knew we were going to play in a lot of games like this as our careers go, and I’m sure this will be the first of many.”