Following a gut-wrenching loss in overtime to the Raiders to start the season, the Ravens must now return home to face the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. Riddled with injuries and on a short week, Baltimore still has to step up and face their kryptonite in front of the entire world.
In this article, I will go over key matchups to keep an eye on in Week 2.
Tyreek Hill vs. Ravens’ cornerbacks
The biggest home run threat on the entire Kansas City offense, as evidenced by a 75-yard touchdown against the Browns in Week 1, is wide receiver Tyreek Hill. In terms of big-play ability, Hill is as good as it gets at the position.
The Ravens will have to keep Hill in front of them on defense and not allow any backbreaking plays overtop. Of course, that is much easier said than done. When playing against Hill and quarterback Patrick Mahomes, sometimes even perfect coverage is not enough to get the job done.
Leaving one man on an island against Hill is asking for bad news, even with an All-Pro cornerback such as Marlon Humphrey. Baltimore will have to devote an extra man in the secondary to containing Hill on Sunday.
Travis Kelce vs. Ravens’ secondary
Not even a full week after facing Darren Waller — allowing 10 receptions on 19 targets for 105 yards and a touchdown — the Ravens will have to face another elite tight end in the form of Travis Kelce. Baltimore attacked Waller with multiple different coverages and players and they will likely do so again for Kelce.
While Kelce does not have the elite speed that Waller has for the position, he knows how to get open possibly better than any other tight end in the NFL. Kelce has been nearly unstoppable with Mahomes at quarterback, but the Ravens will have to do everything they can to slow him down.
Baltimore will likely deploy a mixture of jamming Kelce at the line, doubling him in coverage, as well as using players such as Humphrey against him.
Ravens’ offensive line vs. Chiefs’ pass rush
There is no sugar coating it: the Ravens offensive line was an unmitigated disaster in Week 1. Both left tackle Ronnie Stanley and Alejandro Villaneuva struggled immensely against defensive ends Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue. Quarterback Lamar Jackson was under constant duress in the pocket. With Stanley seemingly unlikely to play on Sunday, the situation does not look any better.
Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman must find a way to help whoever lines up either tackle spot on Sunday with chips and double-teams from tight ends and running backs. Chris Jones and Frank Clark will be looking to wreck the game just as Crosby and Ngakoue did. In order to score enough points to have a shot at taking down the Chiefs, Jackson cannot be under the same amount of pressure as last Monday night.
Don “Wink” Martindale vs. Patrick Mahomes
Mahomes has had his way with Baltimore’s defense in their three previous matchups — throwing for 1,136 yards and nine touchdowns to just one interception. Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale is notorious for scheming pressure through blitzes, which has not worked at all for the Ravens when facing Mahomes.
Mahomes has a passer rating of 134.0 when Baltimore has blitzed him. Finding a way to generate pressure without sending extra guys will be key to throwing Mahomes off his game and disrupting Kansas City’s offense. Martindale will have to use disguised pressures, stunts, and twists to create a potential free rusher upfront. Ideally, players such as outside linebackers Odafe Oweh and Justin Houston can beat the man across from them consistently.