Ravens@Chiefs (+3) 40.5 o/u
The first of Sunday’s intriguing playoff games pits the Baltimore Ravens (12-4) vs. the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6). The Chiefs, who are 7-1 at home this season, haven’t won a home playoff game since January 8, 1994 and find themselves a 3 point underdog to the visiting Ravens.
Neither Baltimore nor Kansas City possesses an upper echelon NFL quarterback. Both Joe Flacco and Matt Cassell have proven to be inconsistent at best this season. Flacco has had solid and poor performances against some of the top teams in the NFL. Unfortunately for the Ravens he has also shown the ability to make at least one costly mistake a game.
Matt Cassel, who statistically had the best season of his career with a 93 passing rating, has played horribly against teams with a .500 record or better completing only 51% of his passes, averaging 149.6 yards per game, with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
The inability to depend on consistent quarterback play this season has led both teams to lean heavily on the running game, the Chiefs more so than the Ravens. Kansas City enters the game with the league’s top ranked rushing attack, while Baltimore is ranked 14th.
Although the running game has been vital to the success of both teams, this game will come down to the Chief and Raven defenses ability to control the opponent’s offense. Specifically, which defense can shut down the opposition’s rushing attack and forcing the offense to rely on their quarterback to move the ball.
If both defenses are successful, then game will come down to a battle of which quarterback makes the least amount of mistakes.
Even though Joe Flacco has been atrocious in his five previous playoff appearances, completing only 47.5% of his passes for 660 yards, 1 touchdown and 5 interceptions, the third year quarterback has proven to be more reliable against stronger competition this season than Cassell. With Cassell playing in his first playoff game against the ball hawking Ravens defense lead by Ed Reed and Ray Lewis, expect Flacco to be more efficient and make fewer mistakes.
Additionally, Raven offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has been extremely successful against Chiefs defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. Cameron coached offenses are 4-1 against Crennel defenses, scoring an average of 25.6 points per game.
The Chiefs soft schedule helped ensure their first division title since 2003, but it’s hard to imagine that this team will win their first home playoff game in over 17 years.
Ravens win, take the Ravens minus 3 and the under
Coming up: Packers vs. Eagles Preview