Not only is it a matchup of the top two Super Bowl favorites, but it’s also the third chapter in the budding rivalry between the past two league MVPs, Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes.
Jackson is 21-3 as a starter, but he’s 0-2 against Mahomes. In Jackson’s fourth career start two years ago, the Chiefs prevailed in overtime, 27-24. Last year, the Chiefs edged the Ravens, 33-28. However, both of those games were at raucous Arrowhead Stadium.
Will there be a different outcome this time? The majority of prognosticators we looked at think so, by well over a two-to-one margin. As of this morning, 32 of the 45 pundits predicted a Ravens victory.
That’s a stark difference from the Week 3 meeting between the two teams last season, when 56 of 60 pundits picked the Chiefs.
Here’s a sample of what pundits are saying about the game:
The Ravens are the better team at this early point in the season.
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal: “Thirty quarterbacks have more completions of 20-plus yards than Mahomes (3), including Jeff Driskel. The Chiefs rank 17th in yards per play (5.7), and their offensive line has looked ordinary. I have no question Kansas City will snap out of it, but it’s facing a Ravens team that looks faster on offense (Devin Duvernay! Miles Boykin! J.K. Dobbins!) and tougher on defense (Calais Campbell! Derek Wolfe!). This shapes up as the early-season message from the Ravens that the Chiefs will have to respond to in January, probably back in Baltimore.”
The Ravens’ running game gives them a significant edge.
NFL Next Gen Stats: “The Ravens add almost a full yard over expectation per run, good for fifth-most in the NFL. Stopping the run is an issue for the Chiefs defense, not only allowing 4.6 yards per carry this year, but only posting a 9.1-percent run-stuff rate, lowest in the NFL. So run, Ravens run, because your super power just so happens to be your opponent’s kryptonite.”
The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker: “The Ravens will have to score early and often to win this high-profile showdown. Kansas City’s poor run defense will allow them to do just that.”
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo: “[The Ravens] will stay committed to the run even if they are down by a significant margin. So I’m sure they’re going into this saying, ‘We’ve got a game plan to run the football and we’re going to stick with that. We need to have Kansas City show us that they’re going to be able to stop that.’ So definitely a challenge for [Defensive Coordinator] Steve Spagnuolo’s defense knowing they need to shore things up and do it quickly ahead of this game on Monday. Otherwise they are going to have some problems with this Ravens offense, that has now added J.K. Dobbins, by the way, at the running back position. He is impressing early.”