It will not take long to discern who has the upper hand in the AFC wild-card game between the Ravens and Chiefs on Sunday. The profile of both teams is based on physicality, intimidation and power running.
For Kansas City to have any success against the Ravens, the Chiefs will have to run the ball. For the Ravens to get control of this game, they will have to stop Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. In what promises to be difficult weather conditions, the running game is going to be the key for both teams.
But there is another part of the game that will bear watching. The Ravens' defense is banged up. Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs did not practice until Friday because of injuries. Ed Reed has a rib injury and a heavy heart with the disappearance of his 29-year-old brother this week. Linebackers Dannell Ellerbe, Jameel McClain and Tavares Gooden are all hurting. Cornerback Josh Wilson was limited this week after suffering a shoulder stinger against Cincinnati.
The upstart Chiefs come into the game with an almost non-existent injury report and home-field advantage. In Arrowhead Stadium, home field matters. If the Chiefs can hold their own physically against the Ravens, they will give themselves a chance against a more experienced, deeper playoff team.
The Ravens know this territory. They are masters of the wild-card round under John Harbaugh. The Chiefs are new. They must prove themselves. They need to make a statement.
This is a game that comes down to want-to and willpower. The smarter, more physical team will survive and advance. Unless injuries become an issue, it's hard to imagine that team won't be the Ravens.