NFL 2019 (Week 3): Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs

Russell S. Baxter

NFL 2019 (Week 3): Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs

By Pete Fasulo

Special to Pro Football Guru

This Week 3 match-up pits two young phenom quarterbacks that have thus far led their respective teams out of the gate to unblemished 2-0 records. The Ravens have beaten two weak teams in the Dolphins and the Cardinals, yet despite the opponent the team has looked very strong. Are they for real, or is their ascent to the top of most folks’ NFL Power Rankings an illusion based on beating weak opposition?

The Chiefs have beaten the Jaguars and the Raiders. Not exactly world-beaters themselves. This game, on paper at least, seems to be a battle of the team with the solid defense versus the team with the phenomenal offense. As The Beastie Boys once sang “Something’s Got to Give.”

When the Ravens have the ball: Baltimore, known for years for relying on their stout and hard-hitting defense, are suddenly putting up points behind an unleashed quarterback that can gain yardage both with his legs and with his arm. Lamar Jackson has already completed 71.9 percent of his passes this season for 596 yards. He has thrown seven touchdown passes and, more importantly, zero interceptions. Jackson has also run for 126 yards on 19 carries. Add in the fact that newly-acquired running back Mark Ingram has already posted 154 yards on the ground and you have the makings of a solid offense thus far. The belief here is that the Ravens will be able to move the ball, but not nearly as effectively as they did in the first two weeks of the season versus lesser opponents, against a disruptive Chiefs’ defense led by end Frank Clark.

When the Chiefs have the ball: Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been a phenom since he was given the starting job in Kansas City last year. He led the Chiefs to a division title and was the 2018 NFL MVP. So far this season, he has completed 71.4 percent of his passes and, like his counterpart Lamar Jackson, has thrown seven touchdown passes to zero interceptions. He has numerous weapons in Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce and LeSean McCoy. The big question here will be “can the Chiefs run the ball effectively, and will they need to?” Andy Reid has called 80 pass plays to only 48 rushing attempts during the first two weeks of this young season. Throwing the ball 62.5 percent of the time is not a long-term recipe for success. If Kansas City sticks to this ratio, I’m certain that John Harbaugh’s defense will adjust and put enough pressure on Mahomes to create turnovers.

Prediction: Expect this game to be an excellent back-and-forth battle dictated by which quarterback can manipulate what the defenses are giving them. It should be close to the very end with the Chiefs eventually pulling away and securing the victory to remain undefeated.

Kansas City Chiefs 33, Baltimore Ravens 28

Pete Fasulo (@LISportsFans) is a freelance writer covering business, music, and sports. He has written for music publications such as Revolver and Aural Fix. His sports writing career has been resurrected here after numerous years at The Torch and The Long Island Tribune (many moons ago).

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