With a quarter-season now in the books, the Ravens sit at 3-1, right where any team wants to be after the first four game stretch of the regular season. Some argue that without the bad offensive pass interference call on Jacoby Jones against the Eagles, the team would be 4-0.
However, we should also note that the poorly officiated Patriots game, in which the Ravens escaped by a point, could have gone New England’s way. And, even the Browns game would have become interesting if Cleveland wide receiver Greg Little didn’t do what Greg Little does, by dropping a beautiful would-be touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden in the 4th quarter.
So 3-1 could be 4-0 sure… or 2-2… or 1-3 with a few more bad bounces. Every NFL team is made up of the world’s best athletes and anything can happen when two pro teams strap on the pads and hit the trenches.
The Ravens typically excel over the course of a season because they are able to out-perform the majority of the league in as many of the controllable areas of the game as possible, both on and off the field. And the rest becomes a crap shoot. That’s why we love this game.
Week 5 brings the Ravens to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City to face the Chiefs. The Chiefs come in at 1-3, but have some high powered weapons on offense and should not be taken lightly. Here are some areas to keep an eye on in this week’s matchup.
‘Under Pressure’ by Bowe
Chiefs' wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is one of the more unheralded big talent players in the league. His combination size, speed, hands and ball adjustment skills make him a nightmare for defensive backfields to handle.
Baltimore’s defense has had big problems slowing down the passing game so far this season. Cary Williams was abused by Tom Brady who went for 335 yards, Brent Celek left a Zorro mark on the middle of the field in Philly for 157, and even rookie Brandon Weeden found receivers downfield against them, earning his 320 yards through the air.
The Ravens have plenty of time to shore up the defense, which also involves generating a stronger pass rush, but putting a lid on Bowe with top corner Lardarius Webb would help their confidence in a big way. Thankfully, quarterback Matt Cassel likes to help opposing defenses much more than Brady does. He’s thrown 7 picks on the year.
Crazed Arrowhead Stadium provides as strong of a home field advantage as anywhere in the NFL. They make noise, they make barbecue, they make it dang hard to run a no-huddle offense for a road team making calls at the line. Against the Eagles, Baltimore’s offense fell asleep in the 2nd half and uncharacteristically lost a game after having a double digit lead.
Their offensive game plan must incorporate balance early to put the Chiefs on their heals in the 2nd half, and if it’s too loud for the no-huddle, it’ll be on Cam Cameron to find a matchup advantage within the defense. The Ravens did handle this stadium in the 2010 playoffs, winning 30-7, after knocking out stud running back Jamaal Charles. The current Chiefs have given up the 2nd most points per game in the league, yielding 34 per game.
Still Ngata lotta chatter
Considering the Ravens have been missing their widely considered best defensive player and premiere pass rusher Terrell Suggs, we should highlight the fact that tackle Haloti Ngata quietly proves himself weekly to be one of the top defensive tackles in the league. Teams can’t afford to block him with one man, and even facing double teams he’s consistently finding a way to shake loose into the backfield. He’s logged 2 sacks and 20 tackles on the year, and has been a mammoth force in each game. Once he’s free, he’s a freight train churning, and he appears due to be on the big end of a game changing turnover sooner before later.
The Ravens appear the clear favorite based on record, and considering starting quarterback Matt Cassel’s seat has been rumored to be warming. But, the Chiefs can score points, Baltimore has given up points, and the Ravens are 4-6 in their last 10 games on the road, dating back to last year including playoffs. With the big date in Houston coming up in two weeks, and plenty of more tough games to play, the Ravens need to prove against the Chiefs at Arrowhead that they’re in control of the flight.