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Chiefs-Ravens 5 questions with the enemy: How will Baltimore handle the pressure?

We welcome Baltimore Beatdown for answers to five questions before Sunday’s AFC Championship.

Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs face the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC Championship at M&T Bank Stadium. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Ravens are favored to win. We welcome managing editor Kyle Phoenix of Baltimore Beatdown — our sister SB Nation site covering the Ravens — for Five Questions with the Enemy.

1) The pressure will be on the Ravens on Sunday. How is this team better equipped to handle it this season?

I think it starts with the coaching. The Ravens arguably have one of the best staffs in place, including the (mostly) even-keel John Harbaugh. The coordinators are smart, the play-calling is more conducive and in all, they don’t appear to panic.

Now regarding the players, there is far more leadership in the room this season than in years past. The team is led by QB Lamar Jackson and ILB Roquan Smith. Jackson has evolved into a better leader, as he was the person to rally the offense as they went into halftime tied 10-10 against the Houston Texans in the Divisional Round. He’s more mature and cerebral than when he first entered the league and gashed teams on his talent alone. On defense, they have Smith, who is the modern-day Ray Lewis, honestly. It’s stunning to see somebody fill those shoes, but Smith has done so.

2) The Chiefs defense is reliant on blitzes for their sacks. How do the Ravens create pressure on the quarterback?

The Ravens are effective in numerous ways. They are a team that likes to simulate pressure, sending four guys after the quarterback but varying how that’s being done. Sometimes they’ve dropped two defensive linemen while they send a nickel cornerback and a inside linebacker to rush. But they are a team that doesn’t need to blitz to get home against the quarterback. Their edge rushers have the ability to get him. Both Jadeveon Clowney and Kyle Van Noy have showed that even though they’re veterans, they can still get it done.

3) How has Lamar developed his game over the last 12 months which makes him so composed these days?

He’s just so “locked in.” No more contract disputes. No more struggling without receiving weapons. Now he’s working with an offensive coordinator who can better synergize with his development as a passer. He has had the sole focus on winning a Super Bowl since draft night. And it feels like this is the team he can do it with.

4) Do you have any prop bets that you like?

My favorite prop bet is “Lamar Jackson longest rush over 17.5 yards.”

Jackson is lethal with his legs — and if the Chiefs try to blitz him and he gets loose, he’ll be able to slash the defense for longer than 18 yards, in my mind. So that’s my favorite prop bet.

Some also think Mark Andrews’ anytime TD is a possibility. Seeing as he’ll be back in the lineup — and he’s Jackson’s favorite target — that could be one to tease.

5) DraftKings has the Ravens are slight favorites, which is typically the home advantage. Do you think the Bank will prove pivotal? How do you see this game going?

I definitely see the M&T Bank Stadium crowd impacting this game. They did so against the Texans last week, helping to force six pre-snap penalties. And this fanbase is so desperate to win — especially against the Chiefs — that I expect it to be rocking on Sunday.

Call me a drinker of the purple Kool-Aid if you want, but I’m taking the Ravens here and I’m taking them against the spread. The Ravens have just shown such an ability to defeat good teams — and I see them beating up on a Chiefs team that isn’t their usual super-power self. And while the Chiefs are still good, I see the Ravens just being better — and being at home.

Be sure to check out the answers I gave to their questions by clicking here.

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