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Arrowheadlines: Ravens-Chiefs was the most watched AFC Championship game ever

Chiefs headlines for Wednesday, January 31

AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The latest

Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. Ravens Draws 55.5M Viewers; Most-Watched AFC Title Game Ever | Bleacher Report

CBS announced Tuesday the game averaged 55.5 million viewers, eclipsing the 54.9 million viewers who tuned in to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the New York Jets 24-19 in January 2011.

The AFC title game pitted the greatest quarterback of his era (Patrick Mahomes) against the presumptive MVP winner (Lamar Jackson). That on its own would’ve been a big enough draw.

CBS also benefited from the Taylor Swift bump. It’s inescapable to ignore how the NFL, despite its existing position and popularity, has benefited by Swift’s indirect involvement.

The Four Keys to Super Bowl LVIII | The Ringer

Kansas City’s Plan(s) for When Kyle Juszczyk Is on the Field

One of the more interesting chess matches in this game will be played before the teams even huddle up: How the Chiefs defense will match up with San Francisco’s personnel, and specifically fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Juszczyk may seem like a bit player in this game full of stars, but he’ll be the key figure in how Kansas City’s defense lines up against the 49ers offense.

Knowing how Spagnuolo operates, he’ll have a thorough plan for this aspect of the game. In last season’s showdown between these teams, Spags matched San Francisco’s two-back sets with base defense on about half of the snaps and played nickel on the other half. The split was almost entirely based on the down and distance. On early downs, when the run threat was higher, Spags played base. On passing downs, he put the extra defensive back out there. And that’s how he’s generally operated throughout 2023.

If Kansas City employs a similar plan in the Super Bowl, expect the 49ers to take their shots in the passing game on early downs rather than running McCaffrey into a brick wall. Or is that what Spagnuolo wants? We should have a good idea after the very first snap, assuming Juszczyk is on the field for it.

10 Quick Facts About the Chiefs’ AFC Championship Game Victory Over Baltimore | Upon Further Review | The Mothership

6. The Chiefs dominated the time of possession battle throughout the game.

One area that Kansas City clearly dominated throughout the game was in the time of possession battle, which the Chiefs won by a whopping 15 minutes. Kansas City possessed the ball for 37 minutes and 30 seconds compared to Baltimore’s 22 minutes and 30 seconds, marking the Ravens’ lowest time of possession total since Week 5 of the 2014 season.

The difference largely rested with the Chiefs’ second possession of the game, which ate up more than nine minutes and ended with a go-ahead touchdown by tailback Isiah Pacheco.

Most valuable player for each NFL team during 2023 season: Christian McCaffrey, C.J. Stroud headline key stars | CBS Sports

Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes

Again, you can’t overthink this one. The Chiefs find themselves playing in another Super Bowl, and it wouldn’t be possible without Patrick Mahomes under center. Given the struggles the K.C. receiver unit had this year, it took a generational quarterback to help usher the offense forward while still winning games. Not many players — if any — could’ve done what Mahomes did this year.

2024 NFL free agency: Ranking top 50 players, QBs available | ESPN

1. Chris Jones, DT, Kansas City Chiefs

Age entering 2024 season: 30

Jones had 10.5 sacks this season and shows the versatility to align off the edge, where his pass rush win rate jumps from 19.6% to 22.1%. The eight-year veteran is still a game-wrecking talent on the defensive front as a true disruptor. He has 75.5 sacks, 12 forced fumbles and 26 pass breakups over his career, and he should get a big contract come March after returning to the Chiefs in 2023 on a one-year deal.

NFL mock draft 2024: Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels among 5 QB picks | USA Today

31. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, Alabama

A two-time All-SEC cover guy could be made to order if K.C. can’t afford to re-sign L’Jarius Sneed.

2024 NFL Mock Draft: Latest First-Round Predictions After Championship Weekend | The 33rd Team

XAVIER LEGETTE, WR, SOUTH CAROLINA

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 227 pounds

Class: Senior

Fit: The Kansas City Chiefs have shown some nice improvements on offense in the first three rounds of the playoffs, but they still rely heavily on Travis Kelce and Rashee Rice far too much. Xavier Legette has the size and athleticism to develop into a quality WR1 alongside Rice.

Around the NFL

Steelers hiring ex-Falcons head coach Arthur Smith as new offensive coordinator | NFL.com

Smith, who was fired after three seasons as Atlanta Falcons head coach, is being hired as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ new offensive coordinator, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported Tuesday, per a source.

The 41-year-old Smith will become the fifth full-time offensive coordinator of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s tenure, which began in 2007. Of the previous four, three were in-house selections. That included the last, Matt Canada, who was dismissed during the 2023 campaign.

Smith heads to Pittsburgh looking to not just revamp the Steelers’ offense, but his reputation as an offensive asset. Smith’s ability to rebuild Ryan Tannehill’s career and helm the NFL’s No. 2 offense as the Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator led to him the role of Falcons head coach. However, his inability to steward a quarterback of the future in Atlanta largely led to his dismissal after three straight 7-10 campaigns.

Bills promote LB coach Bobby Babich to defensive coordinator | ESPN

The Bills announced the move Tuesday afternoon, just two days after the team shared that interim offensive coordinator Joe Brady, 34, would be promoted to his role full time. Babich, 40, received multiple interview requests for defensive coordinator roles around the league but has never served in the role.

“Good coach,” coach Sean McDermott said about Babich last week. “Bobby and I have been together a number of years, going back to our time together in Carolina. And you know, his dad [coach Bob Babich] was with us for a number of years here, and good family. Bob is a good coach. He’s developed players, and I think when you evaluate a coach, [you are] taking what you have and making it better? And I think it doesn’t get any, need to get any more complex than that. And Bobby’s done that.”

In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride

Chiefs-Ravens: How Baltimore’s offense was limited in the AFC title

Taking rushing off the menu from base defense

Much has been said about Baltimore’s offensive coordinator Todd Monken failing to run the ball. His running backs had just five carries — and Jackson had only two designed runs. But that happened because the Chiefs’ defense took certain runs off his menu — particularly when they were in their base defense.

The Ravens tried getting into variations of 12 personnel (with fullback/tight end Patrick Ricard or tight end Mark Andrews) to get Kansas City into base and test their run defense. While this has always been a struggle for the Chiefs, it wasn’t an issue in Baltimore.

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