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Ravens at Chiefs: 3 Key Matchups

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Baltimore Ravens v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The marquee game of the NFL’s Week 3 slate pits the ascending Baltimore Ravens against the formidable Chiefs in Kansas City’s home opener.

This intriguing clash features electrifying quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes, capable coaches John Harbaugh and Andy Reid, intriguing coaching schemes and playmakers on both sides of the ball.

These three key matchups could determine the outcome:

C Matt Skura vs DT Chris Jones

Chris Jones has developed into a game wrecker. With 23 sacks, 46 quarterback hits, 13 pass deflections, six forced fumbles and two interceptions over his last 34 games, the Mississippi State product has a history of disruption.

Jones bullied past Skura for a rare takedown of Lamar Jackson last December. Skura has worked to strengthen his anchor this season, and will receive assistance from guards Bradley Bozeman or Marshal Yanda on most plays. Kansas City led the NFL in sacks last season, including a Justin Houston strip-sack against the Ravens, but Houston and Dee Ford have departed.

The lineman will have to account for recently acquired defensive end Frank Clark. Nonetheless, preventing Jones from causing havoc in the backfield should be the blockers top priority.

S Tony Jefferson vs TE Travis Kelce

Jefferson came to Baltimore with a reputation of solid coverage against tight ends. He has made a few impact plays in coverage but overall tight ends have fared well when facing the Ravens. Baltimore allowed a 71-percent completion percentage to tight ends last season.

Kelce managed seven catches for 77 yards in last season’s meeting while Jefferson was out with injury. Earl Thomas was acquired to tighten up coverage in the middle of the field, but he figures to be busy monitoring the Chiefs trio of speedy wideouts vertically. Coordinator Martindale will throw different looks at Kelce, including coverage from playmaking dime linebacker Anthony Levine and signal caller Patrick Onwuasor.

Kelce will serve as Mahomes’ primary target when the blitz forces him to unload the ball quickly. As the focal point of Andy Reid’s offense, Kelce will not be eliminated. The goal for the defense is to limit the damage from the All-Pro tight end.

WR Marquise Brown vs CB Charvarius Ward

After a slow ramp-up in training camp, ‘Hollywood’ has hit the ground running. Through two games, Brown has produced 233 yards and two touchdowns with an impressive 19.4 yards per reception. He has displayed the polished routes, sure hands and game breaking speed that made him the first receiver selected in the 2019 draft.

Ward, a second year UDFA from Middle Tennessee St., will often receive the tough assignment of marking Brown. Mark Andrews is off to an outstanding start this season, and will also be featured in the passing game. However, the Chiefs have upgraded at both safety positions with Tyrann Mathieu and rookie Juan Thornhill since they held Andrews catch-less last season.

Baltimore will aim to shorten the game with a ball control offense, but they will likely have to fight fire with fire at some point to keep pace with Kansas City’s potent offense. Marquise has the best matchup to put points on the board rapidly.

Score Prediction: Chiefs 27, Ravens 26