Posted on December 5, 2018, by Travis Pulver
For most of the 2018 NFL season, nothing has been able to stop the Kansas City Chiefs. That is, nothing but the one team that has as many offensive weapons as they do (the Los Angeles Rams). Oh– and the New England Patriots. But there is one thing they have yet to face this season, a team with a really, really good defense.
Come Sunday, they are not only facing a team with a really good defense in the Baltimore Ravens. They are facing the No. 1 defense in the league.
Kansas City does not have a very strong defense this season, but they have been able to get away with it by outscoring everyone. But that has been easier to do since they haven’t played too high-powered defenses. Statistically, the Jaguars are the best of the bench to date (fifth in points/game allowed) followed by the Chargers (seventh), Patriots (ninth), and Broncos (11th).
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But each of those teams had some other fatal flaw (Jaguars) that cost them the game or were simply outgunned (Chargers and Broncos) by the Chiefs (except for the Patriots who beat them). However, the Ravens defense is on a whole other level—No. 1 in points/game allowed, No. 1 in total yards allowed, No. 2 against the pass, and No. 3 against the run.
Unlike many top-ranked defenses, the Ravens are not one of the best because they excel in one area so well they can cover for deficiencies. They are good at every facet of the game which is something the Chiefs offense has not had to face.
It remains to be seen if the Chiefs will be able to lean on their run game to take pressure off the passing game. Last week was their first without Kareem Hunt but they still ran for 174 yards and an average of 5.8 yards a carry. However, Patrick Mahomes led the way with 52 yards on nine carries. While having a dual-threat QB is great, they will not want to risk an injury this close to the playoffs.
However, the Chiefs could catch a break if the Ravens start Lamar Jackson again. With Jackson at the helm, the Ravens are a much more one-dimensional offense. In three starts, he has just one passing touchdown, three interceptions, and is averaging around 150 yards.
This is going to be a much more competitive game then people think. The Chiefs are going to struggle against the toughest defense they have faced all season. Kareem Hunt’s absence in the run game is going to be felt. Baltimore is likely going to make the most of their running game in order to keep Mahomes off the field as much as they can.
He can’t score if he doesn’t see the field.
But he will see the field and he will get some points on the board for the Chiefs. Maybe not as man as fans are accustomed to seeing. Enough to win? Eh—maybe, but don’t count on them scoring enough to cover the spread (-6.5).
So, take the Chiefs to win straight up but the Ravens to cover the spread.