BALTIMORE — Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith and his teammates have confidence heading into the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at 3 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champions and have a mystique because of their success in the postseason. That success continued on Sunday evening when quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs to their sixth straight conference championship game with a thrilling 27-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.
That set up the first AFC Championship Game played in Baltimore since January 3rd, 1971 when the Colts beat the Oakland Raiders, 27-17.
“Next game up, so that is our mission,” Smith said. “We do what we do, but it’s going to take one week at a time. So, whoever we play next week, they are coming to M&T Bank. And as I said before, whoever comes here has to get dealt with. There is a villain to every story, and we have a Cinderella story. So, on to the next.”
The Ravens and Chiefs have played some hard-fought games.
The teams last met in Week 2 of the 2021 season. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns and threw for a score in a 36-35 victory at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore outside linebacker Odafe Oweh recovered a fumble by Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire late in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Jackson had lost his three previous games against the Chiefs and Mahomes at Arrowhead Stadium.
Moments after leading the Chiefs to a victory over the Bills in Buffalo, Mahomes turned his attention to the Ravens, who opened as a 3-point favorite.
“There is no weakness there. It’s going to take our best effort,” Mahomes said. “Defense, offense, special teams. They do it all. It’s always a great challenge. That stadium is going to be rocking.”
The Chiefs are playing their third game in the postseason, so there will be some physical challenges heading into Baltimore. Kansas City All-Pro guard Joe Thuney will have an MRI on Monday after he suffered a pectoral injury against Buffalo.
Kansas City defeated Miami, 26-7, in the wild-card round while the Ravens enjoyed a bye as the No. 1 seed.
Harbaugh is confident his players will be ready for the challenge.
“Our guys are going to stay edgy. I don’t know whatever you want to call it, but they’re determined, and they’re motivated,” he said. “It’s going to be a great team coming in here [to face us in the AFC championship] next week, and we’re going to have to play our best football. I promise you that’s all these guys are going to be thinking about.”