Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens Expert Pick – January 28, 2024
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS EXPERT PICK – JANUARY 28, 2024 – This is how it should be. Led by the most recent MVP and coming off their second championship in four seasons, the Chiefs are the class of the league until someone proves otherwise.
Related: NFC and AFC Championship Picks
It’s only right they’re the ones standing in the way of Baltimore’s Super Bowl bid.
When: Sunday, January 28, 2024
Time: 3:00 PM ET
Where: M&T Bank Stadium
Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens Odds
Kansas City Chiefs
(13-6 SU, 11-8 ATS)
(14-4 SU, 12-6 ATS)
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
Same Old Chiefs?
As ugly a regular season it was for Kansas City’s offense, they’ve tapped into another gear in the playoffs. Sure, Mahomes hasn’t tallied gaudy numbers, but the team showed they can win ugly games.
Minus-4 degrees at kickoff against the Dolphins? We’ll just feed the angriest man in football, Isaiah Pacheco 24 carries. Buffalo wants to run light personnel groupings to take away the pass? We’ll create mismatches by running our highest rate of 13 personnel since 2016.
In some ways, not having the pressure and expectations of feeding Tyreek Hill has made this team better, more balanced. Mahomes just wants to win, and if that means playing through the run game, he’s happy to do so. But what type of attack will Kansas City deploy against the league’s best defense on Sunday?
Baltimore won’t be able to roll out last week’s strategy against Mahomes. CJ Stroud processes the field well beyond his years, but Patrick Mahomes is like a computer. And I’m not talking about your grandma’s cubey desktop running Windows 97. No, Mahomes is what it would look like if Skynet built a quarterback.
If Mahomes gets the same soft zone coverages the Ravens showed to Stroud, he’ll happily take his check-downs and patiently dice the Ravens apart. Baltimore will have to take some risks to be able to shut down the Chiefs’ multiple attack.
The possibility of Kyle Hamilton shadowing Travis Kelce has been floated as one strategy. Kelce is special, but Hamilton was put on this earth to shut down tight ends.
All of Kelce’s option routes where he gives a wiggle at the top of the route and posts up the defender won’t be so easy with Hamilton’s long arms draped all over him. Shutting down the best tight end of the past half-decade would put a nice bow on Hamilton’s already All-Pro season.
The chess match on the other side of the ball is just as enticing. Steve Spagnoulo is the most underrated defensive coordinator in the league. For years, the Chiefs’ front office gave him pedestrian talent with the expectation that he’d spin them into an above-average group come playoff time.
Now that K.C. has finally given Spags a bit more to work with, the unit has been elite (second in the NFL in PPG allowed) and carried the offense during their rougher stretches this season. They’re talented, creative, and disciplined. A
nd unlike the Texans who missed the second most tackles in the league this year, the Chiefs have missed the sixth fewest. It might be another slow start for Lamar as Todd Monken figures to crack the code on Spags’ defense. Let’s hope Jackson doesn’t start the game with a pick-six the way he did the last time he faced Kansas City.
Rested & Ready
The Ravens’ gamble to rest their starters in Week 18 paid off. Baltimore is healthy and should be aided by the return of Mark Andrews and Marlon Humphrey. Meanwhile, Kansas City has a laundry list of injured players, including Joe Thuney and Derick Nadi. If these two can’t go, it’ll be a massive blow to the Chiefs’ respective lines.
Of course, Chris Jones will have his fair share of game-wreaking plays, but not having his 317-pound running mate next to him might allow more attention be sent in the direction of the All-Pro defensive tackle. Baltimore’s offensive tackles haven’t been dominant this season and George Karlaftis has come on in year two.
Establishing the run game early and negating Kansas City’s pass rush will be key.
There will never be a better opportunity for Lamar Jackson to reach the Super Bowl. He’s in his prime, the team is excellent and healthy, and the Chiefs aren’t at full strength. His performance last week may have busted the narrative that he doesn’t perform in the playoffs, but the pressure is still on.
Lamar Jackson has been incredibly locked in on a Super Bowl since he arrived in Baltimore, he’s going to find a way to win this game.
Ravens 31, Chiefs 20