Ravens vs. Chiefs: Defense Needs To Win Turnover Battle To Beat Baltimore

James AdkinsCorrespondent IIJanuary 4, 2011

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 28:  Linebacker Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with Glenn Dorsey #72 and Jovan Belcher #59 after recovering a fumble on a sack of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck of the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on November 28, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. The Chiefs defeated the Seahawks 42-24. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
The last time the Kansas City Chiefs won a home playoff game was 1994. That season, head coach Marty Schottenheimer led a ball-hawking defense and grind it out offense to a 27-24 overtime defeat of the Pittsburgh Steelers. For the Chiefs to defeat the Baltimore Ravens at home this Sunday, current Chiefs coach Todd Haley will need to employ a Schottenheimer-esque gameplan to do it.

Like those Schottenheimer teams of the 1990s, Haley and soon to be Florida-bound offensive coordinator Charlie Weis have turned the Chiefs rush offense into one of the best in the NFL. And while defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel's defense is much improved from the squad he inherited from last season, players like linebackers Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson, cornerback Brandon Flowers, and rookie safety Eric Berry will need to force more turnovers than their Ravens counterparts to give Chiefs fans their first home playoff victory in 17 years.

For the 12-4 Ravens, perhaps no other statictical category more accurately reflects their success than turnover ratio. In the games they've won the Ravens are +11, but in the games they've lost they are -4.

The Chiefs offense, until this past week against the Raiders, has done a good job of protecting the football. What is in question is if the Chiefs defense can peel the ball from the hands of running back Ray Rice and force quarterback Joe Flacco into throwing an interception or two.

If the Chiefs can, and they win the turnover battle against the Ravens, they should have an excellent chance of taking their show on the road the following week to play the New England Patriots. That matchup would give Weis, Crennel, and general manager Scott Pioli an opportunity to face their former employer, something I'm sure each would love to do rather than ending their season at home to Baltimore.