Baltimore @ Kansas City
Vegas: KC -6.5
DomModel: KC -9.407
Recommendation: KC -6.5
-QB Joe Flacco (hip) was INACTIVE weeks 11 – 13. He should be healthy enough to return, but Ravens will likely stick with Jackson.
-RB Alex Collins (foot) was injured week 11 and is on IR.
-RT James Hurst (back) was INACTIVE weeks 7 – 13. He was limited in practice on Wednesday.
-LG Alex Lewis (shoulder) was injured week 13. He did not practice on Wednesday.
-OLB Tim Williams (ankle) was INACTIVE weeks 11 – 13. He practiced in full on Wednesday.
-S Tony Jefferson (ankle) was injured week 12. He was INACTIVE week 13. He did not practice on Wednesday.
Kansas City Chiefs:
-WR Sammy Watkins was INACTIVE week 13. He was limited in practice on Wednesday.
-RB Kareem Hunt has been released.
-RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif fractured his fibula during his week 5 game and did not return. HC Andy Reid said he isn’t done for the year, but he’ll miss time (likely around 8 weeks).
-C/G Jordan Devey (pectoral) was placed on IR.
-S Eric Berry is till recovering from an Achilles injury he suffered week 1 of 2017. He has not played this year, but started practicing ahead of week 13. He was limited in practice on Wednesday.
When Baltimore has the ball:
The Ravens lost starting QB Joe Flacco ahead of their week 11 game, and have since turned things over to 2018 32nd overall selection Lamar Jackson. Since then, the Ravens are 3-0. They’re also running an offense meant to tailor to Jackson’s strength as a QB with elite scrambling ability.
Ravens pass attempts in Jackson games: 19 -> 25 -> 21
Ravens rush attempts in Jackson games: 50 -> 42 -> 47
So yeah, they’re running the ball a fucking lot. Jackson himself has rushing attempts of 24 -> 10 -> 15, giving him 49 rush attempts and 65 pass attempts. These are absurd splits.
In addition to Jackson, the Ravens primary ball carrier has been Gus Edwards. Edwards surprisingly took over the main rushing duties week 11, then cemented his role as the lead back after Alex Collins was injured. Edwards is playing well this season, averaging 5.0 yards per attempt on 76 touches.
Through the air, Jackson has been unimpressive. With Flacco presumably healthy again, I think there’s a chance Jackson could be benched if the Ravens start slowly. So far this year, Jackson is completing less than 60% of his passes with more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (2). He’s mainly been targeting WRs John Brown, Willie Snead, and Michael Crabtree with some dump offs to RB Ty Montgomery mixed in.
The Ravens are middle of the pact this year in DVOA (15th), with middle of the pack rush ranks (16) and middle of the pack passing ranks (14). Those ranks include Flacco games, naturally, but looking at the last 3 games, it’s impossible not to conclude that this isn’t just an average offense.
Jackson is exciting to watch at least?
Kansas City’s defense:
The good news for the Chiefs defense is this game is at Arrowhead, where they’ve given up 17.6 ppg as opposed to 33.7 ppg on the road. Yes, 33.7 ppg on the road. That’s a real number. Hooray for home-field advantage.
Did I just say “hooray?” I am the worst.
Overall, Kansas City ranks significantly better in DVOA vs the pass (16th) than the run (dead last). Their pass defense strength comes from their pass rush, where Dee Ford has been absolutely raking. Ford has 65 pressures on the year and 12 sacks. He’ll team up with Justin Houston, who has been injured for a decent chunk of the year but is back to terrorizing quarterbacks, often making them wake up in a pool of sweat having bad dreams about a Justin Houston devastating swim move that leads to a sack (I made that up). Chris Jones is also an incredibly effective interior pass rusher — he’s up to 49 pressures and a cool 10 sacks.
In the secondary, Steve Nelson leads the way allowing a 66.4 QB rating when targeted this year. Opposite Nelson will be Orlando Scandrick with Kendall Fuller covering the slot. All 3 have been productive this season. They also have somewhat of a chance to finally get S Eric Berry back, who hasn’t played since the 2017 opener. Not that we’d expect Berry to contribute immediately, but his talent is real and Chiefs fans (I’m convinced the model is a Chiefs fan) should be excited.
Let’s not talk about the run defense.
TL;DR Conclusion: I suppose you’d look at this matchup and assume the Ravens could take advantage of the Chiefs poor run defense, but you’re living in 2000. When the Chiefs put points on the board — and they always do — you can’t simply run the ball and win.
When Kansas City has the ball:
Oh baby, let’s talk about when the Chiefs have the ball. I can barely type I’m so god damn excited. Yes, I write about the Chiefs virtually every weak. I don’t care, I still get excited for it.
Let’s start with the offensive line, because they aren’t very good and I want to get it out of the way. Ok, we good with o-line talk? Great.
ONTO PAT MAHOMES. Mahomes will eclipse the 4,000 yards barrier in this one. He already has 41 TDs and just 10 picks. He’s completing 66% of his passes, good for a QB rating of 118.1. He makes plays in the pocket, on the run, on a dime 30 yards in the air without his feet being planted.
And I’m not trying to suggest that Mahomes does it all himself, because he throws to some that know how to catch a football. Travis Kelce, a tight end, has now officially been targeted over 100 times on the year. He’s over 1,000 yards and has 9 touchdowns. Tyreek Hill, the fastest human who has ever lived (unconfirmed exaggeration) is over 1,100 yards and has 11 touchdowns. Behind Kelce and Hill is Sammy Watkins, but he missed last weeks game with a foot injury and is still limited at practice. If Watkins can’t go, the next man up is Chris Conley, and he’ll do just fine.
On the ground, the Chiefs are naturally without now infamous piece-of-shit Kareem Hunt. I went way more in depth here about how that impacts the Chiefs. The long and short is running backs are still overrated in today’s NFL, and I trust Spencer Ware to handle the running back duties. The Chiefs also brought in Charcandrick West this week as an additional depth piece. West is already familiar with the offense since he previously played 4 seasons for Kansas City.
The Ravens have a top 5 defense in the NFL, both against the pass and rush. Their pass rush has been more on the “ok” side this season, but DE Za’Darius Smith has been productive. Smith is at 44 pressures and 12 sacks. The next best pass rusher on the Ravens is Terrell Suggs – who is still somehow playing football despite being at least 80 years old (unconfirmed exaggeration part II).
Where the Ravens really excel is in coverage, rolling out CBs Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith. They also have 5x pro bowler Eric Weddle at safety.
Against the run, the Ravens have a slew of talented guys up front. C.J. Mosley, Brandon Williams, Brent Urban, and Michael Pierce, to name a few.
TL:DR Conclusion: With the rules the way they are in 2018, I don’t see how you stop the Chiefs offense at home. That said, the Ravens are one of only a few teams that even have a prayer.
That’s it for now, bitches. Let’s win some money.