The Baltimore Ravens head to Kansas City for a rematch of their overtime loss in Week 14 of the 2018 season. This was Lamar Jackson’s only regular season loss to date and it happened in dramatic fashion. Jackson and the Ravens have made drastic changes that may lead to a different outcome against an offensive powerhouse. Kansas City will be without star wide receiver Tyreek HIll and starting left tackle Eric Fisher. If you remember correctly, Hill torched the Ravens defense last year. Hill caught eight balls for 139 yards with a crucial catch on 4th & 9.
Although the Chiefs have several players not playing due to injury, the Ravens are missing some pieces that would certainly be helpful in a game such as this. Jimmy Smith remains out with a grade two MCL strain and as we know, Tavon Young is out for the season with a neck injury. This will most certainly be the game to watch in Week 3 of the regular season. Let’s look at a few players to watch come Sunday.
Anthony Averett, CB
As I mentioned above, the cornerbacks have taken quite a hit to start the 2019 season. Losing not one, but two of your best cornerbacks will most certainly have an effect on the preparation, execution and outcome of the game. Enter Anthony Averett. Averett has played respectable the first two weeks of the regular season. He was entered into the game against the Dolphins after Jimmy went down with his knee injury and was immediately picked on. The ball was thrown in his direction often and he was able to play consistent. He was beat on some plays and sometimes out of position, but he was adjusting. Averett played better in week two against the Cardinals but still struggled at times.
John Harbaugh has repeatedly said that “Double A” is a “pit bull” and is “extremely fast,” but that will most certainly be tested against the Kansas City track team. Although Tyreek Hill may be out, the Chiefs still have Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and Travis Kelce. Watch for Averett to play a large role.
John Harbaugh and his coaching staff:
Yes, I know John Harbaugh isn’t a player but he coached with Andy Reid for 8 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles as their special teams coach. Harbaugh also brought in David Culley during the offseason to be the assistant head coach and the wide receivers coach. Culley also came from the Andy Reid umbrella. They both know how Reid operates his offense and should be able to tip off Don Martindale in film study and throughout the game.
I’m certain that the offensive staff has implemented offensive schemes that Reid has used throughout his career, especially with his experience having mobile athletic quarterbacks. Whenever Harbaugh and Reid get together, it’s a reunion. Coach is obviously looking to get revenge after the week 14 loss a season ago and improve his record against his former boss.
Harbaugh has a 1-3 career record against his former mentor. Look for Harbaugh and David Culley to give Andy Reid a taste of his own medicine.
Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards & Justice Hill (RB’s)
As of right now, the Chiefs are giving up six yards per carry on the ground. This gives the Ravens an opportunity to control the clock and make Kansas City’s high octane offense sit on the sidelines and watch the show. Mark Ingram has been extremely effective through two games, Gus Edwards has come in late in games as a closer and Justice Hill has been used as an effective third down and goal line back.
Hill has been a block away from bursting a big run or catch. Ingram has been breaking tackles left and right. Edwards has been effective after the game gets down to the final quarters or minutes. I believe that all will get a significant amount of touches throughout the game in different capacities and game situations.
Ingram, Edwards and Hill are truly a three-headed monster that is always moving forward. All three are made for a type of game like this, add in Lamar Jackson’s swift feet and you have a recipe for success. Look for the running game to help control the speed of the game. Also, watch for Justice Hill to catch a screen pass or two coming out of the backfield.
Cyrus Jones, CB
There would be nothing better than to see Cyrus Jones take a punt return to the house or deep into Chiefs territory, right? Jones was able to return a 55 yard punt last year to set the Ravens in great field position at the Kansas City 12-yard line. Cyrus has been a block or two away from breaking large gains the first two weeks of the season and is due for a home run. Special teams is a big focus within the Baltimore Ravens organization and this would be a game changer to say the least.
Whenever Jones steps on the field to return a punt, he’s a threat to make a play. Look for Cyrus Jones to pop off some runs that will help the teams field position.
Matt Judon, OLB
Based on the production of Matthew Judon so far this year, he appears primed for a huge game this week. Eric Fisher being out of the game is almost a ticket to the backfield for not only Judon, but all Ravens pass-rushers. Judon had a field day last year against the Chiefs with a stat line consisting of two tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and five QB hits. He was constantly creating pressure and moving Patrick Mahomes out of the pocket. In the first two weeks of the season, Judon has racked up seven tackles, three tackles for loss, and five quarterback hits. Just to put that in perspective, in 2017 Matt totaled 19 quarterback hits and 2018 totaled 20 quarterback hits.
The Ravens must game plan to use Judon and other rushers to get in Mahomes face and make him uncomfortable. Look for Matt Judon to disrupt Mahomes rhythm and be a force in the backfield facing Cameron Erving and company.