The main focus for the Ravens’ defense when they head to Kansas City this Sunday will be trying to stop the Chiefs’ No. 1 rushing attack. The Chiefs averaged 164.2 rush yards per game thanks in large part to their superb running back tandem of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, who combined for 2,363 yards on the ground. If the Ravens are able to control the Chiefs’ run game, they will have a very good shot at advancing to the next round of the playoffs. Charles is their shifty, speedy back and Jones is the power, third-down back. Both can hurt you in different ways so it’s imperative that the Ravens are prepared for what each back brings to the table.
The Ravens do have the fifth best rush defense in the league, allowing just 93.9 yards per contest. They don’t have a problem containing the run in the first half, but the second half is a different story. I don’t know if they are just getting tired or the opposing offenses are figuring out how to run on them, but something needs to change, and fast. When you have a back like Jones who can wear down a defense with his power and a back like Charles who only needs a small seam to break one for 60 or 70 yards, it’s crucial for the Ravens to play hard for all 60 minutes.
But the Ravens do need to be a little careful because if they let quarterback Matt Cassel and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe get into a rhythm, they can become a dangerous combination. Bowe is one of the best young receivers in the game and really stepped up this season finishing with 72 receptions, 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns. But Bowe has been battling an illness all week and will most likely not be 100 percent come Sunday. However, if he is anywhere close to full strength, he’s definitely going to cause the Ravens’ secondary some trouble. At 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, he is a nightmare matchup for any cornerback, so Chris Carr and Lardarius Webb will surely have their hands full.
But if the Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata can get pressure on Cassel like the Raiders did last Sunday, Cassel will have a hard enough time getting the ball out of his hand as it is. The Raiders racked up seven sacks last week and totally dominated the Chiefs’ offensive line, who easily had their worst game of the season. The good thing for the Ravens, though, is that the Raiders exposed the Chiefs’ line a bit, but the downside is they’ll be more aware of what they did wrong and will spend all week correcting it in practice.
One thing the Chiefs may not be able to game plan for, though, is Ed Reed. Reed, who leads the league with eight interceptions despite missing the first six games, has been on fire lately. In the past five games, Reed has registered 22 tackles and a league-best four interceptions while helping the Ravens to a 4-1 record during that span. The only thing Baltimore asks of you, Ed, is to not lateral the ball when you pick off a pass. Just go down, please!
Submitted by Steve Giles