Playoff Sunday is here, and in just a couple short hours, the Ravens will take the field against a 10-6 Chiefs team that is playing its first home playoff game since 2003.
A win today would earn the Ravens a third matchup of the year with the Steelers, and would get them going on their journey to Dallas and the Super Bowl.
Here are three keys to today's game from the Ravens' perspective:
Limit Charles' big plays
Remarkably, Jamaal Charles was just a single yard away from setting the NFL single-season record for most yards per carry this season. He's got incredible speed, is quick through the hole and is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. The Ravens have faced a number of bruising, physical backs this season, but they haven't seen many like Charles, who a few defensive players were comparing to Titans running back Chris Johnson this week. Charles was second in the NFL in rushing this year, and he'll get his share of yards, but the Ravens need to make an effort to keep the Texas product in check and limit the big play.
Listen to Hue
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said that he talked with Raiders offensive coordinator (and former Ravens quarterbacks coach) Hue Jackson this week to get a few tips on how to attack Oakland's defense. Jackson's Raiders put up 31 points and 344 total yards on Kansas City last week, but the thing that Cameron should really try and copy is how Oakland was able to have so much success on the ground. The Raiders had 209 rushing yards against the Chiefs, and we know that the Ravens will lean heavily on the run today. If they can be anywhere near as effective on the ground as Jackson's offense was last week, they should be in good shape.
Help out on Hali
I wrote earlier this week about Tamba Hali, Kansas City's stud outside linebacker, and how much of a force he can be off the edge. Hali had 14.5 sacks this season, second-best in the NFL, and could cause a big problem for the Ravens today. Left tackle Michael Oher will play, but he's battling through a sprained right knee and won't be at full strength. The Ravens have struggled to protect quarterback Joe Flacco lately, allowing 3.5 sacks per game in their last six contests. They need to help Oher and right tackle Marshal Yanda with Hali today, keeping tight ends and running backs in to double team or at least chip the outside linebacker and slow him down. If Flacco has a clean pocket, he can do some damage against the Chiefs secondary. If he's battling consistent pressure, he could have another rough day.