The Baltimore Ravens rumbled through their first two matchups with victories, picking up where they left off with 2019’s historic regular season. With the crushing playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans in the rearview, the Ravens already find themselves ranked as the top team in the NFL. The thought of Lamar Jackson improving upon his MVP season is dreadful for the rest of the league.
But with victories over the inconsistent Cleveland Browns and a Houston Texans team lacking any offensive weapons, is this Ravens squad really better than last year? ESPN’s upcoming Monday Night Football matchup of Baltimore versus the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs should provide an answer.
This is arguably the AFC Championship game that everyone in the nation wanted last season, but was stripped away by the football gods. 2019 Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes versus 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson will be too good to miss, with two explosive offenses prepared to trade blows. NFL fans tuning in on Monday night may be in store for one of the best games of the season, as these top ranked Super Bowl bound teams clash together early in September.
As a Baltimore native, my biased attitude leans toward the Ravens securing a victory on Monday. But by no means do I count out the reigning champions loaded with weapons on both sides of the ball.
Besides the glorified quarterback Patrick Mahomes, all-star tight end Travis Kelce and speedster receiver Tyreek Hill make for a dangerous pass-catching duo. Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has had an impressive debut as a first round draft pick, adding additional tools for Andy Reid to deploy.
On the other side of the ball for the Chiefs, defensive tackle Chris Jones is wreaking havoc among opposing lines. Safety Tyrann Mathieu is constantly lurking around for big plays, and defensive end Frank Clark is hunting down quarterbacks when healthy.
But let’s return to the Baltimore bias. Lamar Jackson has kicked the season off looking even better through the air than he did last season. He has completed 77% of his passes through two games while still creating magical plays with his legs. Over the first two weeks the Ravens have visibly dialed back on running Jackson as much as they did in 2019, but a long season awaits. It is only a matter of time before the highlights of elite playmaking ability return from number 8.
Have I mentioned the defense? Cutting safety Earl Thomas may have potentially hurt the Raven’s salary cap, but his departure hasn’t been felt on the field. The addition of all-pro defensive lineman Calais Campbell has already shown results, and rookie linebacker Patrick Queen has proven to be a true first round talent. Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters appear to be one of the top cornerback duos of the league, each with one interception so far. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense will have their work cut out for them.
Punters on each side may have a long night at M and T Bank Stadium, as this game could come down to which offense has the ball last. Final score prediction: 38-31 Ravens.