Ravens vs. Chiefs: Running Back Play Is Key in AFC Showdown

Ethan GrantAnalyst IOctober 7, 2012

BALTIMORE - SEPTEMBER 27:  Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens runs the ball against the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium on September 27, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens led the Browns 9-7 at the half. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
Larry French/Getty Images

Two of the top five fantasy running backs are set to square off as the Baltimore Ravens travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs, but there's nothing artificial about how important Ray Rice and Jamaal Charles are to their teams picking up a win on Sunday.

Charles has done most of his damage on the ground, rushing for 411 yards and claiming the No. 2 spot in the league behind Marshawn Lynch.

But Rice has been a threat out of the backfield more so than Charles so far on the season. Both are similar spark plugs for their teams. By the numbers, each team wins when their back has a big day.

Let's look at why these two are so important to their respective offenses below, after a look at where you can watch this AFC matchup on Sunday.


When: Sunday, Oct. 7 at 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO

TV: CBS (check local listings)

Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket

Radio: 101 FM the Fox (KC), WBAL 1090 AM (BAL)


Why RB Play is Key

If you look at Kansas City's 1-3 record, their lone victory was because of a Charles field day. He rushed for over 200 yards against the New Orleans Saints, single-handedly taking out the Who Dat nation on the road.

In the other three games, all losses, Charles has only managed 178 yards.

That should tell you the state of this Kansas City offense. Some early season offensive line struggles and Matt Cassel turnovers have put this team in an early hole. If they're able to run the ball with half the efficiency they did against the Saints, this game could get very interesting.

For the Ravens, Rice is the center of the offense. Talk of Joe Flacco as an elite player seems premature to me, because Rice is what will take this team to the Super Bowl, not Flacco.

Look at the second half against the team's lone loss against the Philadelphia Eagles. Flacco performed well in the first half, but helped Michael Vick and that Eagle offense make their second comeback of this young season.

Rice needs to carry the load. John Harbaugh and this offense has success when they are pounding the rock and mixing in Rice out of the backfield. It establishes confidence with Flacco for later in the game, and if you can't stop the run in football, you can't win games.

This could be a turning point game for both teams. After the disappointing loss to the Eagles, the Ravens have a chance to bounce back and head to 4-1, putting doubters aside in the process.

If the Chiefs fall to 1-4, it will be extremely difficult to avoid a top-five pick in the NFL draft, seeing as Denver, San Diego and even Oakland are all playing better football right now.

These two teams need to establish the run, and go back to it often. The team that's able to run the ball in the second half wins this game in Week 5.