Report: Ravens have 2nd-best chance to dethrone Chiefs

OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens are one of the favorites to deny the Kansas City Chiefs a third consecutive Super Bowl this season.

After a busy offseason thus far, the Ravens have the second-best chance to knock off the Chiefs behind only the San Francisco 49ers, according to an analysis by the NFL Netowrk’s Jeffri Chadiha.

Last season, Kansas City defeated the Ravens, 17-10, in the AFC Championship Game and then defeated the 49ers in the Super Bowl.

“The Ravens open the NFL season in Kansas City, so we’ll have an early read on how ready this team is to make another run at supplanting the Chiefs as conference champs,” Chadiha wrote. “It’s also a safe bet that Baltimore won’t beat itself like it did in last year’s AFC Championship Game loss. It’s still impossible to understand why the Ravens would veer so far from their identity in that contest — by essentially ignoring their vaunted running attack — but what’s done is done.

“Baltimore now must prove that it can create another shot at a championship after being the top seed in last year’s AFC postseason.”

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) runs as Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Ben Niemann (56) defends during the second half at M&T Bank Stadium. By Tommy Gilligan-USA Today Sports

The Ravens are led by reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, who threw for 3,678 yards and 24 touchdowns with career highs in completion percentage (67.2) and yards per completion (8) over 16 regular-season games. He also led the Ravens with 821 yards rushing, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and five scores.

The Ravens have added four-time Pro Bowl running back Derrick Henry. The Ravens had the NFL’s top rushing attack and should be even more explosive next season to keep pace with Kansas City’s high-powered attack.

“Lamar Jackson won the league’s Most Valuable Player award by maturing in a diversified offense that is flush with weapons,” Chadiha wrote. “The arrival of running back Derrick Henry gives the Ravens a monstrous threat in the backfield (even if he is 30 years old), while the eventual return of speedy ball carrier Keaton Mitchell (who tore his ACL in December) will also make Jackson’s job that much easier.”

The Ravens have a new defensive coordinator Zach Orr, but he has been in the organization since he was a player. The team has three All-Pro players back — safety Kyle Hamilton, inside linebacker Roquan Smith and defensive tackle Justin Madubuike.

“There’s an obvious loss on defense with former coordinator Mike Macdonald becoming the head coach in Seattle, but his replacement, Zach Orr, was coaching the team’s inside linebackers prior to his promotion,” Chadiha wrote. “There shouldn’t be much change in a unit that was the best in the league last season. Really, the only thing keeping the Ravens from overtaking Kansas City is the mental aspect.

“The Chiefs usually have found ways to overcome Baltimore in the past, which tends to get in the heads of opponents. The Ravens were the better team on paper when the 2023 regular season ended. They need to find a way to prove that on the field when it matters most.”

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