Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Why Baltimore Could Win:
The Ravens enter this week’s Wild Card matchup against the Chiefs with a superior 12-4 record, but will have to travel to Kansas City where the Chiefs are 7-1. Still, there is a lot to like about the Ravens in this game.
An elite linebacker core led by Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs are the heart of this Baltimore defense that ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing just 93.9 yards per game. That same stout defense ranks third in the league in scoring, allowing a meager 16.9 points per game.
Other than San Diego (who they lost to 31-0 in Week 4) the Chiefs have yet to face a top-tier defense and could struggle against Baltimore’s massive defensive line (320 pound Kevin Gregg, 350 pound Haloti Ngata and 300 pound Cory Redding).
Offensively, the Ravens have been underperforming this season, but they certainly have a wealth of talent. The addition of Anquan Boldin (64 receptions for 837 yards) has led to a career year for Joe Flacco. The third year field general posted career highs in QB rating (93.6), yards (3622) and touchdowns (25) while recording a career low 10 interceptions.
The key, however, could be running back Ray Rice. Brandon Flowers anchors a strong KC secondary but their front seven are somewhat suspect. After tallying a 5.3 yard per carry average in 2009, that number nosedived to just 4.0 this season.
Rice had an enormous game in an road victory against the Patriots in last season’s playoffs (22 carries for 159 yards and two touchdowns) and will have to be in vintage form if the Ravens hope to win this game.