In this game-day staple, blogger Matt Vensel makes four sometimes-courageous predictions for the game. All he asks is that you don't hold it against him whenever those predictions end up being embarrassingly wrong.
The Ravens are rested up and presumably ready to go for Sunday afternoon's game against the Kansas City Chiefs. After four games in a span of 18 days -- including three games of the prime-time variety -- this road tilt in Kansas City is flying under the radar, both nationally and in Baltimore, where everyone has been cast under the spell of Orioles magic. How crazy is it that the O's are stealing the spotlight from the Ravens in October?
But the Ravens are focused on the Chiefs, and on avoiding a major letdown on the road. The Chiefs have won one game this season, they have lost two ugly games at Arrowhead Stadium, and the local newspaper is calling for the general manager, head coach and starting quarterback to get canned. On paper, this one looks like it should be an easy victory for the Ravens, but as we all know too well, that's not how the NFL works.
Am I saying the Ravens are going to lose Sunday? Nah. I picked them to win by 10 points. But the Chiefs will make it interesting. What other predictions do I foresee in my cloudy crystal ball? Keep reading to find out.
1. THE CHIEFS WILL HOLD THEIR FIRST LEAD THIS SEASON
It sounds crazy, but it's true: The Chiefs have yet to hold a lead this season, even in their lone victory. In Week 3, they had to overcome an 18-point deficit against the New Orleans Saints before they won on a field goal in overtime. Even though they are 3-1, the Ravens have been slow starters, too. They have fallen behind in the first quarter twice this season and they have been outscored 20-17 in the first quarter. They will be in a hostile environment Sunday, and I can see the crowd giving the no-huddle offense issues early on, allowing the Chiefs to lead for once. But even if the Ravens fall behind early, I don't see them staying down for long.
2. ED DICKSON WILL BE MORE INVOLVED AS A RECEIVER
Tight end Ed Dickson, a starter a season ago, has taken a back seat to fellow tight end Dennis Pitta, who leads the Ravens in targets and has stolen snaps away from Dickson. As a result, Dickson is seventh on the team with just five receptions for 50 yards and has three fewer receptions than fullback Vonta Leach. But as we have seen so far, the Ravens are making a concerted effort to keep everyone involved and happy (see Ray Rice in Week 3 and Anquan Boldin in Week 4). I think this will be the week they let Dickson get his, especially considering the opponent. The Chiefs have allowed a tight end to score a touchdown in three of four games.
3. THE RAVENS WILL RACK UP 100 YARDS IN PENALTIES
I wrote about this after the Week 4 win over the Cleveland Browns, but penalties are an issue for the Ravens. Some have come in critical moments, and the sheer volume of them is staggering. The Ravens are tied for the most penalties in the NFL with 37 for a total of 330 penalty yards. They are on pace to set franchise records in those dubious categories. And you can't blame the replacement officials. After the Ravens were flagged 14 times for 135 penalty yards in Week 3, the real refs hit them up for 100 yards in penalties against the Browns. In a loud stadium against a desperate, agitated team, I see them eclipsing 100 penalty yards again Sunday.
4. HALOTI NGATA WILL RECORD AT LEAST ONE SACK
Haloti Ngata is once again getting early-season buzz for his stellar September play. He has 15 tackles and is second on the team with two sacks. My gut tells me he is going to add to that total against the Chiefs, who have a new center in Ryan Lilja and a pair of youngsters, Jeff Allen and Jon Asamoah, starting at guard. Look for Haloti to take those kids to school and take down Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel at least once Sunday.