“Young, Athletic & Gifted”

AFC Game Of The Week

Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs

Ravens: Remember when Lamar Jackson decided to enter his name for eligibility for the NFL Draft in 2018? Prior to him being drafted, all the other analysts had their doubts. Some even said that if he wanted to have a successful career in the NFL, the best thing for him would be to change positions. I was never one of those analysts. I’ve been in a fortunate position to analyze the NFL and NCAA Football, so I saw what Lamar was able to do during his college days at Louisville. He was sharp there and he’s had to become better now at the next level. I think people tend to forget that this kid won a Heisman back in 2016. Let’s look at the numbers he’s put up in the first two games of the 2019 season. He’s thrown seven touchdown passes and no interceptions. That’s not bad for a guy who was told he should change his position, right? Right now, in a division where the Steelers and Browns were the two best teams on paper in the off-season, the Ravens sit atop the AFC North at 2-0. They’ve added nice complementary pieces around Lamar for him to succeed starting with Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. He brings speed on the perimeter and a threat down the field. He and Lamar have developed a nice chemistry that I feel will only get stronger as the season moves along. I’m liking the way the Baltimore Ravens look right now. They have a special dynamic on offense and defensively, they’re still one of the best in the business as you’d expect. They blew Miami out in week one and had to grind out the game against the Arizona Cardinals in week two. Now, they have a true test. Kansas City at Arrowhead for a week three showdown.

Chiefs: Last week, I said if their offense couldn’t get it going, could the defense step up, clamp down and stop someone? That looked to happen on Sunday in Oakland as the Raiders shut the Chiefs out in the first half by ten points. They woke up as an offense in the second quarter by unloading on the Raiders scoring their 28 points behind four touchdown passes from Patrick Mahomes. When you think they’re going to miss pieces like Tyreek Hill, you just sit back, watch what they do and see how the others step up. Overall, this was as complete of a football game as it can get for the Chiefs. After the on pouring in the second quarter, the defense pitched a shutout for the rest of the game. It’s a start for them. This is still the top offense in the league now and they have depth. One guy can go down, Andy Reid can plug someone else in and he’ll produce. Heading into their game with Oakland, I said they wouldn’t miss Tyreek too much because rookie receiver Mecole Hardman plays similarly to number 10. You saw it with his deep routes he ran down the field. Mahomes just put it up there and he got the ball. Two games in and they look just as unstoppable as they did a season ago, maybe even scarier. When I look at the AFC early on, it’s still the Patriots and these Chiefs atop the conference with everyone else looking up and hoping to even be mentioned with them at the table. I really want to see if they can hold up defensively. They still give up big plays up and down the field, but I’m seeing more of a bend but don’t break mentality from them which is a start. After two weeks on the road, the Chiefs return to Arrowhead for the first time since the AFC Championship game.

Ravens Player to Watch: Mark Andrews– Next to Hollywood, he’s becoming one of Jackson’s favorite targets. I think he can be one of the best tight ends in the league if he really wants it. He’s a smooth route runner with soft hands and a good vision to find his spots to make the catch. Expect these two to connect early and often in this one.

Chiefs Player to Watch: Frank Clark– All off-season, the Chiefs knew their top priority had to be defense. They added a piece in Frank Clark that’s just as effective in stopping the run as he is when it comes to rushing the passer. He must help get that front seven ready for this tilt with Lamar Jackson on Sunday.

Final Analysis: This could be the next quarterback rivalry in the NFL for years to come. Their first match up last December was one to remember. When you thought the Ravens had the game in the bag, here come the Chiefs. This is also the game when Mahomes made the no-look pass in-game. In this battle, we have two division leaders who come into this game undefeated. The Ravens will need to feed Mark Ingram early on. After all, this is the number one rushing team in the league and to keep Mahomes and company on the sidelines, control the clock. This defense needs to come with containment and exotic looks to disrupt Mahomes and his timing. The Chiefs need to continue to take strides in playing better defense and what’s a better way to do that than against a guy whose bee silencing his critics? The Ravens have faced two subpar teams, now they get a true test. It’s key for the Chiefs to attack a Ravens secondary that’s struggling to stay on the same page.

Prediction: Chiefs 30 Ravens 24