Chiefs

Keys to victory: Chiefs must not let Ravens dominate pace of play on Sunday

One Minute Preview: Baltimore Ravens

Here are five things to know about the Baltimore Ravens before they take on the Kansas City Chiefs.
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Here are five things to know about the Baltimore Ravens before they take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs can surpass last season’s win total by beating the Baltimore Ravens this weekend at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs will also try to remain unbeaten at home this season.

Keys to victory

1. Tempo

The Chiefs must not allow the Ravens to dominate the pace of play. By sustaining long drives, controlling the clock and limiting the Chiefs’ number of possessions in the game, the Ravens could minimize the opportunities for Patrick Mahomes and the top-scoring offense in the NFL. Last week, the Ravens had the ball for nearly 40 minutes and limited the Falcons to 45 offensive plays.

2. Rattle the rookie

Ravens rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson has started just three games in his NFL career. He still has more rushing attempts (82) than pass attempts (77) and more interceptions (three) than touchdown passes (two). He’s been sacked six times in those three starts, and his highest quarterback rating in that span has been 74.5. By confusing and/or pressuring the youngster, the Chiefs may be able to derail the Ravens’ offense.

3. Rushing yards from RBs

In the first game of the season without Kareem Hunt last week, the Chiefs’ leading rusher was quarterback Patrick Mahomes. While Spencer Ware’s 14 carries were more than Mahomes’ nine rushes, Mahomes still rushed more in that game than any other game this season. Several of the runs were scrambles, but steady production from the running back position will only serve to limit hits on Mahomes and the offensive load on him.

4. Win punt/punt return game

The Ravens, coached by a former special teams coordinator in John Harbaugh, rank among the NFL’s top 10 in both average yards per punt return (ninth, 10.7) and average gross yards per punt (seventh, 46.1). The Chiefs rank third in average yards per punt return (12.9) and fifth in average net yards per punt (419). They also lead the league in fewest average punt return yards allowed (2.2). A big return for a score or to set up a score could be critical in helping the Chiefs establish a lead or keeping the margin close enough where the Ravens don’t have to play catch-up.

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Scheme

Head coach

A former assistant under Andy Reid in Philadelphia, Harbaugh became head coach for the Ravens in 2008. In 10 seasons, he’s captured one Super Bowl title and been in the postseason six times. His first nine seasons as an assistant coach in the NFL were as a special teams coordinator before spending a season as defensive backs coach in Philadelphia. Football Outsiders dubbed his team’s special teams the best in the NFL in 2017. He’s spent 33 years in the coaching profession, including stints an assistant head coach, special teams coordinator, offensive position coach and defensive position coach.

Offense

Marty Mornhinweg is another former Reid assistant coach from his Philadelphia tenure. He served as offensive coordinator under Reid from 2006 through 2012. Mornhinweg started his NFL career working in San Francisco as an offensive coordinator. A disciple of the West Coast offense, Mornhinweg’s system is based on synchronization and timing in the passing game between the quarterback’s drops and receivers’ routes. The offense’s principles include stretching a defense horizontally and vertically through formation and pass patterns, throwing on any down and creating mismatches.

Defense

The Ravens promoted Don Martindale to defensive coordinator in January 2018 following six years as linebackers coach. His lone previous stint as defensive coordinator came with the Denver Broncos in 2010. His coaching career dates to 1987 and spans the high school, collegiate and professional ranks. He broke into the NFL as an inside linebackers coach in 2004. The Ravens have a 3-4 base alignment. Through the first six weeks of this season, they registered 69 QB pressures, a sack rate of 10.8 percent and blitzed 35 percent of the time. They sacked the quarterback 11 times in a win over Tennessee in October.

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.


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