AFC Championship: Ravens vs. Chiefs preview, where to watch, prediction - BaltimoreSports.com
Ravens

AFC Championship: Ravens vs. Chiefs preview, where to watch, prediction

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
CHIEFS AT RAVENS

When

Sunday at 3 p.m.

Where

M&T Bank Stadium (70,705)

Spread

Ravens are favored by 3 points (MGM)

How to Watch/Listen

Television: CBS / WJZ Channel 13 (Baltimore)

National Radio: Westwood One Sports

Spanish Radio: La Mera Mera 1050 AM & WTTZ 93.5 FM (Tico Sports)

Stream: Fubo TV, Paramount +

Series History

Kansas City leads the regular-season series, 7-4. In the only postseason matchup, the Ravens beat the Chiefs, 30-7, on January 9th. 2011, in the wild-card round at Arrowhead Stadium.

Notable

This Sunday’s conference title game marks the Ravens’ fourth AFC Championship Game appearance under coach John Harbaugh (since 2008) and the fifth overall (2000) in team history.

2023-24 Rankings

Ravens: Total Offense: 6; Total Defense: 6

Chiefs: Total Offense: 9; Total Defense: 2

Ravens Game Plan

Offense

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson played the finest game of his postseason career in a 34-10 victory over the Houston Texans in the divisional round. Jackson led the Ravens to four consecutive scoring drives in the second half to pull away from the Texans. He completed 16 of 22 passes for 152 yards with two touchdowns. He also led the team with 100 yards rushing with another two scores. Jackson became the first player in Ravens playoff history with a rushing and passing touchdown in the same game.

Jackson will need another solid performance against the Chiefs, who have much more playoff experience than the Texans. The Chiefs have a talented defense that was ranked second overall in the NFL, allowing 289.8 yards per game. Defensive tackle Chris Jones and defensive end George Karlaftis each finished with 10 1/2 sacks and will keep the pressure on Jackson, who was sacked three times by Houston. Jackson will need to get rid of the ball quickly and avoid turnovers that can sway the momentum of the game. Kansas City has a talented secondary led by cornerback L’Jarius Sneed and safety Bryan Cook.

The Ravens should be able to run the ball effectively against the Chiefs, who allowed 4.5 yards per attempt during the regular season — ranked 24th in the NFL. The Ravens had the league’s top rushing attack, averaging 163.8 yards per game. Baltimore has three solid running backs — Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, and newly signed Dalvin Cook. The Ravens ran for 229 yards against Houston, which had a top-10 rushing defense in the regular season. The Bills ran for 182 yards last week against the Chiefs. If the Ravens can run the ball effectively, they will put themselves in position to win the third Super Bowl in franchise history.

During the John Harbaugh Era since 2008 when rushing for at least 125 yards, the Ravens have gone 99-29. Baltimore is 69-20 when rushing for at least 150 yards and 34-5 when totaling at least 200 yards under Harbaugh.

Defense

The key for the Ravens will be to stop Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who ranked sixth in the NFL with 4,183 yards passing with 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He is 13-3 in the playoffs and has advanced to the AFC Championship Game in each of the past six seasons. Mahomes’ favorite target is tight end Travis Kelce, who has 12 receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns this postseason.

Mahomes is at his best in the playoffs, and he had another exceptional game in his duel with Josh Allen and the Bills in Sunday’s divisional game. Mahomes finished 17-for-23 passing for 215 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Mahomes also has gone 3-1 against the Ravens, throwing for 12 touchdowns with two interceptions for a 119.1 quarterback rating. The key for the Ravens will be to apply pressure, so he doesn’t have time to make explosive plays. Ravens cornerbacks  Ronald Darby,  Arthur Maulet, Rock Ya-Sin and Brandon Stephens have played well with three-time Pro Bowler Marlon Humphrey out with a calf injury. The Ravens hope to have Humphrey back in the lineup.

The Chiefs have been effective running the ball in the postseason behind Isiah Pacheco, who had 97 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries — averaging 6.5 yards per rush against the Bills. The second-year tailback has 186 yards rushing in two playoff games, which ranks second to the Packers’ Aaron Jones (226). He is expected to get plenty of carries against the Ravens, who held the Texans to 38 yards rushing on 14 carries. The Ravens’ defense has played at a high level all season and this will be the biggest test.

Prediction

The Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champions and have a mystique because of Mahomes and their success in the postseason, advancing to the Super Bowl in three of the past four years. Kansas City had some struggles this past season, particularly with dropped passes, and was forced to travel in the playoffs for the first time in Mahomes’ career. The Ravens have been at their best in big games are determined to bring a championship back to Baltimore. Jackson is playing at an MVP level and is coming off his best game in the playoffs.

Last week, M&T Bank Stadium was loud and Houston was flagged 11 times for 70 yards, including 5 false starts, 1 delay of game, and 1 encroachment penalty. Ravens fans have helped cause the most opponent false starts (19) and delay of game penalties (9) by any home team during the 2023 season (regular and playoffs). That crowd noise could be a factor against the Chiefs.

Ravens 28, Chiefs 24

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