Baltimore Beatdown traded five questions with Arrowhead Pride, the SB Nation blog of the Kansas City Chiefs. AP is the most prolific NFL blog on SB Nation and perhaps in the country, as it is averaging just under a million visits per month and over two million page views! Below are my questions for Joel Thorman and his responses. After the 'Jump' are his questions for me and my responses.
BB: What happens when the unstoppable object (Chiefs run game) meets the immovable force (Ravens run defense)?
AP: Well I'm not sure to be honest. I don't think the Ravens completely take away the Chiefs running game but it won't be their most productive day that's for sure. The Chiefs should try to work Jamaal Charles into the equation with some pitches or sweeps to the outside to utilize his speed. Charles can be effective that way. Thomas Jones likely won't be very effective at all against the Ravens. He's more of a power running back and I don't think that'll fly against Baltimore.
BB: How does QB Matt Cassel react under the pressure of the playoffs for the first time in his career?
AP: Well, good question. I think Cassel's improved to the point where the Chiefs usually aren't losing games because of him. He doesn't turn it over very often, can hurt you on the blitz when he's on (which isn't every day) and has played very well at Arrowhead this year. I think Cassel plays the way he's been playing all year -- conservative and opportunistic.
BB: How do the Chiefs look so good in some games, yet then come up with clunkers like getting shut out by SD and beaten at home by Oakland?
AP: They're still a fairly young team. Todd Haley had this thing all year where he wouldn't say the Chiefs are a good team, even the day they clinched the division title. (On Thursday he finally called them a good team). That's because the Chiefs still don't have a big margin for error. A few mistakes can doom them in any game. So if you go back and look at the games they won, the common factor is winning the turnover battle.
BB: What would you exploit on the Chiefs' defense if you were the Ravens Offensive Coordinator?
AP: I would make the Chiefs prove they can stop Ray Rice running the ball. They've had trouble at times stopping the run so that's where I'd start, and then I'd roll into some screens and some play-action. Just doing a lot of different things to keep the Chiefs defense thinking because, as we said, this is a young team and they can make mistakes. That said, the Chiefs are usually a pretty sound defense and they don't make a ton of back-breaking errors.
BB: Score prediction?
AP: I have to stick with KC....20-17 Chiefs.
AP: The Chiefs have the No. 1 rushing attack. Will the Ravens shut them down?
BB: Probably not totally shut them down, but limit the yards/per carry way below JC's average and force Cassel to go to the air more tan perhaps he's used to.
AP: Do fans complain about Joe Flacco's play?
BB: He has impressive stats. Amazingly yes, they complain and sometimes rightfully so. Most of Flacco's stats have been earned against the teams we are supposed to beat, not the tougher games. He throws too many Red Zone picks, or at least he used to. He hasn't shown that consistent ability to put points on the board in pressure situations like the Falcons Matt Ryan has, but Joe's stats are Top 11 in the NFL this year, so local fans need to realize he is our Franchise QB.
AP: How will Ray Rice be used against the Chiefs?
BB: Rice is used in so many ways that regardless of the down and distance, he is always a threat to get the ball, in a run or a pass play, be it in the flat, as a check down, or out along the sideline marked by a slower linebacker. He may be diminutive in size, but at 210 pounds, he is not an easy guy to arm tackle and does not mind running between the tackles, as he can hide behind his linemen until a hole opens.
AP: Do the Ravens have a deep threat or anyone that can stretch the field consistently?
BB: They don't have that typical 4.3 speed burner although Donte Stallworth has been that guy. At the same time, all of our wideouts and TE as well have gotten open deep for huge gains this season. Obviously our gameplan is for longer, time-consuming drives with short passes and the occasional deeper one mixed in with a relentless rushing attack.
AP: What's your prediction on the game?
BB: You and the Chiefs' fans will not like this one. I do not see the two teams on the same level. the Ravens have played a very tough schedule in what might be the toughest division in the NFL while KC plays in one of the two weakest divisions and still won two games less than Baltimore. I see the toughness on both sides of the ball being in the Ravens favor and they pound out a low scoring win to start off their post season for the third year in a row. Ravens 17-13