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Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Wild Card Round Preview

Bill Robbins@bill_kc28Correspondent IJanuary 4, 2011

Chiefs QB Matt Cassel will be looking for his first playoff victory in his NFL career.
Chiefs QB Matt Cassel will be looking for his first playoff victory in his NFL career.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs will be hosting the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday in the Wild-card round of the playoffs at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Ravens will enter Kansas City with a chip on their shoulder, having won their last four games to end the regular season.

The Chiefs will be looking for something to prove as they saw their two-game winning streak snapped last weekend in an old-fashioned beat-down by the Oakland Raiders.

In order to pull off the upset of Baltimore, the Chiefs will need strong execution in every area of their game.

QB Matt Cassel has been up and down in the last two weeks as he had over 300 yards passing and two TDs against Tennessee in Week 16, but threw two interceptions and had a QB rating of around 19 last week against Oakland.

Pro-Bowl receiver Dwayne Bowe is Cassel's favorite outlet as the two have hooked up for 15 touchdowns in the recently completed regular season.

Rookie Tight End Tony Moeaki is also another weapon at Cassel's disposal and he could look to him early and often on Sunday.

Most everyone has heard about the Chiefs stellar rushing attack, as they ranked first in the NFL in rushing yards per game in the regular season.

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Led by rising star Jamaal Charles and the gritty Thomas Jones, KC will need to get the ground game going in order to have success against a fundamentally sound Ravens defense this weekend.

Defensively, for Baltimore, they possess one of the better units in the league, thanks to having three big play-makers on that side of the ball.

Their defense runs through future Hall-of-Famer Ray Lewis, Pro-Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs and Pro-Bowl safety Ed Reed.

They also have a man in the middle of their defensive line by the name of Haloti Ngata, who is one of the best defensive tackles in the league.

The key to beating the Ravens defense on Sunday will be to not let these four guys make their usual big plays.

If these guys get going against the Chiefs, it could be a long day for the red and gold.

The Ravens offense runs through former University of Delaware product Joe Flacco, as he has really done a nice job at the QB position and is only getting better with each week.

When he drops back to pass, he will look for Pro-Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin and big-play threat Derrick Mason.

Baltimore's ground game consists of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, who are two very tough, physical runners who will be a tough matchup for the Chiefs defense.

As for the Chiefs defense, they will look to OLB Tamba Hali to continue to make more big plays, as he picked up 14.5 sacks during the regular season.

Kansas City's young secondary will likely be tested by Flacco and they will need to grow up fast against receivers such as Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Special teams could also play a factor in this game as each team has solid returners in the Ravens' David Reed and the Chiefs' Dexter McCluster.

Key Matchup: Jamaal Charles/Thomas Jones vs. Ravens Front Seven

This will be an interesting battle as the Ravens defense is fifth in the league in stopping the run and the Chiefs are the best at rushing the ball in the NFL. Obviously, something will have to give come Sunday. The key for the Ravens will be DT Haloti Ngata. If the Chiefs can find a way to run away from him, they well disrupt the Ravens run D enough to create big plays for their big-play man Charles. If the Ravens can stop the Chiefs rushing game cold, it will make the Chiefs one-dimensional and it will be much tougher for KC to win this game.

Prediction: Chiefs - 17   Ravens - 14

I see the Chiefs notching their first playoff win since the '93 season, as they will beat the Ravens thanks to a solid day from the ground game and help from the fans at Arrowhead.

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