Ravens or Chiefs - Who you got?

As Ray Lewis likes to say: Here we go.

It's a clean slate, folks. Everything that happened in the regular season - the 12-4 record, the frustrating performances - that's all over and done with.

It's time for The Dance. The Tournament. The Party. The ... OK, I'm done.

The Ravens travel to Kansas City this weekend to face the AFC West champion Chiefs, a team that posted a surprising 10-6 season after winning just four games last year. The Chiefs will be making their first postseason appearance since 2006, and will host their first playoff game since 2003, so you know Arrowhead Stadium will be rockin'.

Here's how the Ravens and Chiefs match up statistically going into Sunday's matchup:

Total Offense
Ravens: 322.9 (22nd)
Chiefs: 349.7 (12th)

Rushing Offense
Ravens: 114.4 (14th)
Chiefs: 164.2 (1st)

Passing Offense
Ravens: 208.4 (20th)
Chiefs: 185.5 (30th)

Total Defense
Ravens: 318.9 (10th)
Chiefs: 330.2 (14th)

Rushing Defense
Ravens: 93.9 (5th)
Chiefs: 110.3 (14th)

Passing Defense
Ravens: 224.9 (21st)
Chiefs: 219.9 (17th)

Turnover Ratio
Ravens: +7 (9th)
Chiefs: +9 (t-5th)

Looking at those stats, the one that obviously pops out is the Chiefs' rushing yardage. Kansas City's run game is its bread and butter, and the Chiefs feature two backs in Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones that have contrasting styles, which poses problems for opposing defenses.

Charles is the burner, Jones is the bruiser and they've piled up over 2,300 yards on the ground between them this season. Perhaps the biggest key to the game will be whether the Ravens' fifth-ranked run defense will be able to contain that duo.

Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel is a nice pocket passer, but as we saw last week in Kansas City's loss to the Raiders, when Cassel is pressured, he can be forced into mistakes. The Ravens would be wise to bring the heat at the former Patriots backup and see if he can make plays under duress.

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is the Chiefs' only real receiving threat. The big-bodied wideout led the league with 15 touchdown receptions this year, and will draw plenty of attention in the Ravens secondary.

The Chiefs are solid defensively, but outside of linebacker Tamba Hali - who posted 14.5 sacks this season - they don't have any huge playmakers.

Rookie safety Eric Berry had an impressive rookie season and is going to turn into a stud, but he's not a huge concern for the Ravens just yet. I've heard some compare Berry to Ed Reed this week, but, personally, I think that's a bit silly.

The former Tennessee star looked good this season, but let's ease up on comparing him to a future Hall of Famer until he has a couple years under his belt, shall we?

The Chiefs are tough at home (they were 7-1 at Arrowhead this season) and play a physical brand of football which should match up well with their guests this weekend. If they get out to an early lead and can run the ball effectively, they could have a nice day.

But I don't see that happening. The Ravens are more talented on both sides of the ball and have a major edge in playoff experience and veteran leadership. It won't be a blowout, but I'm expecting the Ravens to come away with their fourth road playoff win in the last three years.

Put me down for a 20-17 Ravens victory.

How do you see this one turning out? Will the Ravens live to play another week? Or will Kansas City take care of business in their own house and give John Harbaugh and company the playoff boot?

Who you got?

blog comments powered by Disqus