These aren’t your older brother’s Ravens.
Baltimore is coming to Arrowhead Stadium for the Chiefs’ home opener on Sunday, and it’ll be a battle of unbeatens.
But the Ravens, 2-0, are doing things a little different this year. They have the second-ranked defense in the NFL heading into Monday night’s game, which is no surprise. But Baltimore also has the league’s top-ranked offense.
Each week, I take an early look at the Chiefs’ next opponent, and here are five things to know about the Ravens ahead of Sunday’s game, which kicks off at noon and will be broadcast on CBS (Ch. 5):
1. Not bad for a running back
The Ravens went all-in on quarterback Lamar Jackson before the season when they traded Joe Flacco to the Broncos.
Jackson had taken Flacco’s job last season when he started the final seven games for the Ravens. The knock on Jackson, who can run well, had been his passing.
Through two weeks of the season, Jackson has flipped the narrative. Jackson is leading the NFL in quarterback rating (145.2) and has completed 41 of 57 passes for 596 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions. He threw six touchdown passes a year ago.
Five of those touchdown passes came in the season opener at Miami. Afterward, Jackson told reporters: “Not bad for a running back.”
On Sunday, Jackson had 272 passing yards and two touchdowns in a 23-17 win against Arizona. This was one of his best throws:
Oh, and Jackson can run, too. He rushed for 120 yards on Sunday. NFL Research said Jackson was the first player since Seattle’s Russell Wilson in 2014 to have 250 or more passing yards, 100 or more rushing yards and no turnovers in a game.
The Ravens’ website noted Jackson is 8-1 as a starter in the regular season, with his only loss in overtime to the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium last season.
2. Rushing attack
Jackson isn’t the Ravens’ leading rusher.
Mark Ingram is the Ravens’ main running back, and he’s averaging 5.7 yards per carry, having collected 154 yards in 27 attempts. Ingram also has two receptions for 30 yards.
3. Jackson’s favorite target
Tight end Mark Andrews set career highs in the opening week in catches (eight) and receiving yards (108). Andrews topped that Sunday with 112 yards and another eight receptions.
Here is a touchdown pass from Sunday:
Andrews’ 16 receptions lead the Ravens, while receiver Marquise Brown has 12 catches for 233 yards.
4. Ball control
The Ravens have dominated in three key areas this season: time of possession, first downs and turnovers.
Baltimore has held the ball for an average of 38 minutes, 52 seconds in their wins over the Dolphins and Cardinals. The Ravens would like to keep up that kind of ball control on Sunday, because it would keep Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense off the field.
The Ravens are plus-three in turnover margin and have a whopping 57-27 edge in first downs.
5. A possible weakness
Cardinals rookie Kyler Murray’s first road game as an NFL starter was Sunday in Baltimore, a place that has shattered the confidence of many a quarterback in the past.
While defense has been the Ravens’ strong suit for about two decades, Murray piled up 349 yards passing and didn’t throw an interception. The Ravens are ranked 14th in passing defense this season. They also were called for 10 penalties on Sunday.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said his team will have to improve against the Chiefs. He is expecting Arrowhead to be loud.
“The stadium will be rocking,” Harbaugh told reporters. “It’ll be deafening. And we’re going to have to be a much better football team next week than we have been last week or this week.”