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Ravens vs. Chiefs scouting report for Week 2 of 2021 season: Who has the edge?

The Ravens lost their opener against the Las Vegas Raiders on “Monday Night Football” in Week 1, and now the Kansas City Chiefs are set to roll into town for a Sunday night contest. Here’s who has the edge in each phase of the game:

Ravens passing game vs. Chiefs pass defense

Quarterback Lamar Jackson completed 19 of 30 passes for 235 yards in the Ravens’ season-opening loss to the Raiders. He produced in the face of relentless pressure from edge rushers Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue, who overwhelmed Baltimore tackles Ronnie Stanley and Alejandro Villanueva with their quickness. The Ravens converted on just three of 12 third-down chances. Ravens blockers will face an even more difficult test this week in Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones, who sacked Baker Mayfield twice in Kansas City’s Week 1 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

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Stanley (ankle) is questionable to play after missing practice all week and could be out much longer, according to a CBS Sports report. Mayfield played well against the Chiefs, completing 21 of 28 passes for 321 yards. Jackson’s top two receivers, Sammy Watkins (4 catches on 8 targets, 96 yards) and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (6 catches on 6 targets, 69 yards) produced against the Raiders and could pose difficult matchups for Kansas City cornerbacks L’Jarius Sneed and Charvarius Ward. (Brown is questionable with an ankle injury.) The Chiefs will benefit from the return of their top ballhawk, safety Tyrann Mathieu, who did not play in the season opener. The Ravens need to get tight end Mark Andrews going after a poor performance in Las Vegas. He caught three passes for 20 yards and dropped a ball that could have kept the Ravens moving in overtime. Jackson did not play well in the Ravens’ loss to the Chiefs last season, taking four sacks and completing just 15 of 28 passes for 97 yards.

EDGE: Chiefs

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Chiefs passing game vs. Ravens pass defense

Other than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl, no one has found the formula for containing quarterback Patrick Mahomes, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce over four quarters. The Browns built a 12-point halftime lead in Week 1 only to watch Mahomes connect with his top two targets for three touchdowns in the second half. Hill and Kelce combined for 273 yards on 17 receptions in the 33-29 win over Cleveland. Mahomes torched the Ravens last season, completing 31 of 42 for 385 yards and four touchdowns. He took no sacks in the 34-20 win, but this time around, he’ll play behind a reconstructed offensive line that includes former Raven Orlando Brown Jr. at left tackle. Brown did not play one of his better games against Cleveland.

The Ravens started well against the Raiders, using a mix of coverages and physical play at the line of scrimmage to control tight end Darren Waller. They ran out of gas, however, and quarterback Derek Carr led four scoring drives in the fourth quarter and overtime on his way to a 435-yard passing night. The Ravens blitzed on 34.4% of Carr’s dropbacks, according to Pro Football Reference, but could not knock him out of his comfort zone. Defensive end Calais Campbell and outside linebacker Justin Houston received impressive pass-rush grades from Pro Football Focus despite modest production on the stat sheet. It will be interesting to see how much the Ravens use cornerback Marlon Humphrey to check Kelce, who has caught 20 passes on 24 targets in the last three meetings between the teams, all Chiefs victories. Now Humphrey is questionable with a back injury. The Ravens would benefit from the return of cornerback Jimmy Smith (ankle), who matches up well with tight ends.

EDGE: Chiefs

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, left, tries to run away from the grasp of Kansas City Chiefs' Juan Thornhill during last season's meeting in Baltimore.
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, left, tries to run away from the grasp of Kansas City Chiefs' Juan Thornhill during last season's meeting in Baltimore. (Kenneth K. Lam)

Ravens running game vs. Chiefs run defense

The Ravens ran for 189 yards in Week 1 after they lost their top two running backs, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, to season-ending knee injuries. Jackson was their top threat, gaining 86 yards on 12 carries. Defenses have learned to key on designed runs for the Ravens quarterback, but no one has devised an answer for his improvised scrambles. On the downside, Jackson helped the Raiders with costly fumbles in the fourth quarter and overtime. Ty’Son Williams jumped to a fast start as the team’s new No. 1 running back with 64 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but the Ravens went away from him in the second half. Recent addition Latavius Murray took over much of the workload, carrying 10 times for 28 yards and a touchdown.

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The team’s offensive linemen performed better as run blockers than pass blockers against Las Vegas, and the Ravens would like grind out long drives against the high-octane Chiefs. They fell behind quickly last season, so they never had a chance to impose their physical style. But the Browns showed such an approach can work against the Kansas City front seven, rushing for 153 yards in Week 1. The Chiefs ranked 21st in run defense last year, allowing 4.5 yards per carry.

EDGE: Ravens

Chiefs running game vs. Ravens run defense

The Chiefs are a pass-first team, but they like to keep second-year running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire involved. He ran 14 times for 43 yards against the Browns after averaging 4.4 yards per carry as a rookie. Mahomes is a dangerous scrambler who averaged 5 yards per carry in 2020, and he scored against the Ravens last season and has a gift for using his legs to pick up crucial first downs.

Aside from an early 31-yard dash by backup quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Ravens largely controlled the Raiders’ ground game, limiting running back Josh Jacobs to 34 yards on 10 carries. Humphrey, middle linebacker Patrick Queen and outside linebacker Odafe Oweh received excellent grades from Pro Football Focus for their work against the run.

EDGE: Ravens

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker lines up to kick a field goal Monday night against the Raiders in Las Vegas.
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker lines up to kick a field goal Monday night against the Raiders in Las Vegas. (Rick Scuteri/AP)

Ravens special teams vs. Chiefs special teams

The Ravens played well in this traditional area of strength in Week 1. Kicker Justin Tucker made both of his field-goal attempts, including a 47-yarder to give the Ravens a lead in the last minute of regulation. Returner Devin Duvernay, who is questionable with a groin injury, mishandled one punt but averaged 16.8 yards on four punt returns. The Raiders managed just 10 yards on punt returns and never started past their own 25-yard line after Tucker kicked off.

The Chiefs were average on special teams last season. Harrison Butker has a big leg and is the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history behind Tucker. Byron Pringle was one of the league’s best kickoff returners in 2020, averaging 32.4 yards and scoring a touchdown.

EDGE: Ravens

Ravens intangibles vs. Chiefs intangibles

The Ravens are reeling after their spate of serious injuries and their overtime loss to the Raiders. The Chiefs are a nemesis for them in the best of times, having won the last three meetings. They dominated the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium last season with Mahomes, who has never lost in September, playing one of the best games of his sparkling career. Kansas City coach Andy Reid has won five in a row against his former assistant, John Harbaugh. The Ravens will try to play with desperation to avoid falling to 0-2, and their home crowd will help, but the Chiefs will have an extra day of rest and every reason to be confident.

EDGE: Chiefs

Prediction

We haven’t seen many matchups in the Harbaugh era that have tilted so clearly against the Ravens. The Chiefs have beaten Jackson and Co. three years in a row. Mahomes, Hill and Kelce are almost impossible to contain under the best of circumstances. These aren’t the best of circumstances for the Ravens, who are coming off a series of devastating injuries, a stunning Week 1 loss and a short week of preparation. Chiefs 34, Ravens 24.

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