Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs: AFC Wild Card Playoff Pre-Game Analysis

This has been one season for the record books for both teams.  Baltimore Ravens Joe Flacco proved that he can stand toe-to-toe with some of the first-tier quarterbacks, and an established running and passing threat from Ray Rice, with some assistance from Willis McGahee, proved they are competitive.  Meanwhile, this isn’t Kansas anymore, Dorothy.  Their stellar quarterback Matt Cassell has found a great wide receiver in Dwayne Bowe, among the top of his class and their running back, Jamaal Charles, who is near the top of his.

Now to the analysis:

Quarterbacks

The Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has 3,622 yards passing, 25 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 93.6 quarterback rating.  Flacco is currently ranked 7th in terms in quarterback rating in the league.  In terms of passing,   yardage, he is ranked Matt Cassel of the Kansas City Chiefs has 3,116 yards passing, 27 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and a 93.0 rating. Cassel is nipping at Flacco with him ranked 8th in quarterback rating.  This is a push, with a slight edge in my opinion going to the Chiefs.  Cassell is a bit more efficient throwing (although his rating says otherwise), in that he has less interceptions per touchdown.   

Running Backs

This is one unique battle, but Jamaal Charles has been spectacular this season.  Charles currently has 1,467 yards rushing, 5 touchdowns and averaging 6.4 yards per carry.  He is currently 2nd in terms of rushing yardage, just 149 yards shy of Houston Texans Arian Foster during the regular season.  His partner Thomas Jones has 896 yards rushing, 6 touchdowns and averaging 3.7 yards per carry.  On the other hand, the Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice has 1,220 yards rushing, 5 touchdowns and averaging 4.0 yards per carry.  He is currently ranked 10th in rushing yardage.  His reliever Willis McGahee has 380 yards rushing, 5 touchdowns and averaging 3.8 yards per carry.  Taking in both backfields into account, the Chiefs get the edge but by only a moderate margin.

Wide Recievers

Both teams have stellar wide receivers, but the Kansas City Chiefs Dwayne Bowe has been dominating this season.  Dwayne Bowe currently has 1,162 yards receiving, a league-leading 15 touchdowns and averaging 16.1 yards per reception.  On the Chiefs team, all the other receivers don’t even come close.  For the Baltimore Ravens, Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason together have 1,639 yards receiving, 14 touchdowns combined and averaging 13.1 yards per reception.  The edge goes to the Chiefs in terms of pure numbers, and with 21st-ranked passing defense, Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles, as a receiver, can find holes in the Ravens secondary.

Tight Ends

The Baltimore Ravens Todd Heap has been making a name for himself this season, but he has also been contending with injuries.  Heap currently has 599 yards receiving, 5 touchdowns and averaging 15.0 yards per reception.  On the other hand, the Chiefs Tony Moeaki has 556 yards receiving, 3 touchdowns and averaging 11.8 yards per reception.  Given these statistics, the Ravens get the edge, as Heap is more efficient as a tight end.

Defenses

The once-vaulted Baltimore Ravens have fallen down to Earth.  They are currently ranked 21st against the pass and 5th against the rush.  The Chiefs don’t have such a stiff defense.  They are currently ranked 17th against the pass and 14th against the rush. Although Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens is still a monster, this monster has had his teeth pulled and his claws dulled.  The Ravens get a slight edge, as their defense may be able to contain the potent Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones.

Coaches/Intangibles

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has been running a balanced offense so far, relying on Ray Rice and Willis McGahee to establish a run when necessary.  On the other hand, the Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley sometimes gambles but always finds a way to establish the run with Jamaal Charles.  Charles was offered a contract extension earlier this year, and he hasn’t let his coach or his team down.  This edge goes to the Chiefs.  Flacco isn’t quite the efficient passer that Cassel is, and Haley has the option of establishing a hard rushing or passing game.

The Edge

The Chiefs get the edge but not by much: 17-14.  This is another of the games that could possibly go into overtime, with the other being the duel between the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers.

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