The Kansas City Chiefs hit the road for the first time in the 2021 season as they travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens on Sunday Night Football. For the second consecutive week, the Chiefs will face off against an AFC North opponent and one of the top contenders in the AFC.
Last week, Kansas City took on the Cleveland Browns and for the first time since the 2020 AFC Championship against the Tennessee Titans, Arrowhead Stadium was rocking at full capacity. The Chiefs made a double-digit comeback to claim a 33-29 victory over the Browns.
Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes improved to 11-0 in the month of September with 35 passing touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also broke two NFL records.
Mahomes broke Kurt Warner’s record for the most passing yards (14,489) and Dan Marino’s record for the most passing touchdowns (117) in a player’s first 50 starts. Last week was his 47th career start. Mahomes won AFC Offensive Player of the Week, setting a Chiefs record for the most by a player with the sixth of his career.
Kansas City has not lost in the month of September since 2016. Sunday night will mark the fourth straight season that Mahomes and Ravens star quarterback, Lamar Jackson, will face off. Mahomes is 3-0 against Jackson so far, including a 34-20 victory in Baltimore last year on Monday Night Football.
What to Watch
The first thing that stands out going into this matchup is health. The Ravens have been hit hard with injuries this year. Before the season started, they lost running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. On the defensive side, Baltimore lost two-time All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters.
This week, the Ravens are heavily banged up. Defensive lineman Derek Wolfe is out and multiple key players are questionable, including Ronnie Stanley, Marquise Brown, Marlon Humphrey, and Jimmy Smith.
As for the Chiefs, they are at full health this week with no players on the injury report. Last week, the team was without star safety Tyrann Mathieu and pass-rusher Frank Clark. This week both of them are healthy and will take the field.
When both teams take the field, the Chiefs will see two familiar faces on the Baltimore sideline: Sammy Watkins and Justin Houston. Both players are in their first season with the team, but were both a piece of the Chiefs teams that made deep playoff runs.
Watkins played three years in Kansas City and was a crucial piece in the Chiefs Super Bowl LIV victory. Houston played with the Chiefs from 2011-2018. He was a First-Team All-Pro in 2014 with 22 sacks.
For the Chiefs, look at an improved defensive performance with the return of Mathieu and Clark. Both players bring a high level of intensity to the defense. Specifically, Clark adds his pass-rushing ability and Mathieu brings his versatility to do everything on the field.
On offense, keep an eye on the offensive line. The revamped front five looked strong against the Browns. Rookie center Creed Humphrey did not allow a pressure in 41 pass-blocking snaps. This week, look for a more well-rounded performance as they grow as a unit.
Additionally, look for the offense to get more players involved. Last week, it was heavily favored towards Travis Kelce (76 receiving yards, 2 TD) and Tyreek Hill (197 receiving yards, 1 TD). This week, expect to see more Mecole Hardman in the receiving game and a more established rushing attack.
Due to trailing for the majority of the game, the passing game was the focus of the offense. Clyde-Edwards Helaire had 14 carries last week, but could get more action if the Chiefs get out to an early lead.
For the Ravens, the focus is going to be on the defense. Derek Carr decimated the secondary for over 400 yards and Mahomes will do the same thing if they don’t make changes, especially if Humphrey and Smith are out.
On offense, they have to trust Ty’Son Williams and other players not named Lamar Jackson to make plays. Jackson did all last week with over 300 total yards offense and 1 touchdown.