When the Baltimore Ravens kick off their post season at the Kansas City Chiefs, they will be trying to avoid the third straight upset in the 2011 NFL playoffs after the Seattle Seahawks shocked the football world by upsetting the New Orleans Saints and the New York Jets nipped the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday.
Those two victories ensured that there will be two new teams in the Super Bowl and the Ravens have as good a chance as anyone of being that team. They can start off on the right foot by winning on the road, which has not been such a tough task for the Ravens as they have won three post season games on the road the past two seasons.
Despite being the fifth seed and the runners-up in the AFC North, the Ravens are favored by the oddsmakers in Kansas City over the AFC West champion Chiefs. Most people think that Baltimore should win if they play anywhere from decent t good, while the Chiefs will need a great performance to pull off the upset. However, if Baltimore plays like it did against their last two opponents in the regular season, Cleveland and Cincinnati, Kansas City will have as good a chance as any to defeat the Ravens.
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However, all season long it appears that the Ravens have either played up or down to their level of competition, barely squeaking by the lesser teams, but either coming close or beating the better teams in the league. This is evidenced by overtime victories against the Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans, yet losses to the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Atlanta Falcons by a combined total of eleven points.
The four Ravens losses were never by more than five points while the Chiefs were shut out 31-0 by the San Diego Chargers and lost their final regular season game at home to the Oakland Raiders by a score of 31-10. If things go as planned the Ravens should be able to use their playoff experience, their solid defense and their offensive weapons to win on the road for the fourth time in three years and head to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers next week.
At the same time, the Ravens will be smart not to overlook the Chiefs, who played solid ball in going from worst-to-first in the AFC West, yet only won one game over a team that finished the season with a winning record in 2010. While the Ravens played a much tougher schedule, they proved they could match up with the better teams in the NFL while Kansas City still has a lot to prove it they want to be considered a Super Bowl contender rather than a pretender.
As long as the Ravens do not beat themselves with lackluster offensive play and turnovers, they should come out on top in this game. If they play anywhere near to their potential, it could actually be a relatively easy victory, words that have not been used in discussing the Ravens games this year. In the past two years, the Ravens have started the playoffs off on the right foot, opening up their offense and getting decisive wins in the first game. Today should be no different as the Ravens open the 2011 post season with a solid victory and then head to Pittsburgh for the rubber game in their season match-up with the Steelers.
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