The Baltimore Ravens (12-4) and Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) are headed for a full scale fight Sunday to see who moves on in the playoffs. It's Tom Brady's former under-study Matt Cassel against Veteran Joe Flacco at QB, but the drama is more likely to happen on defense in this one. Baltimore has a legendary defense, and that factor should be the difference in this AFC Wild Card game.
Flacco (306-489, 3,622 yards, 25 TDs, 10 Int.) comes in with more than 500 yards passing than Cassel has, and Cassel (262-450, 3,116 yards, 27 TDs, 7 Int.) is still young and inexperienced compared to Flacco.
The running game is better for the Chiefs, but Baltimore's backfield is nothing short of brilliant in games that really count. Ray Rice and Willis McGahee are cogs in Baltimore's offensive machine. They don't have the kind of flashy numbers the Chiefs' runners put up this year, but they have the 5 scores a piece to show they are just as effective. McGahee comes into this game with a 100 rushing attempts for 300 yards, and Rice finished the regular season with 1,220 yards rushing on 307 attempts. Rice is also the team's 2nd leading receiver with over 550 yards on 63 catches and one touchdown to show for it.
Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles split the carries pretty evenly for the Chiefs. Charles, with 230 carries, is averaging an astonishing 6.4 yards a carry and has 1,467 yards on the season. He has 5 touchdowns to Jones' 6 scores, but Jones only has 896 yards on 245 carries. These superstars are about to face Baltimore's vaunted defense, known for shutting down the run. Letting Charles or Jones get untracked is not an option for Baltimore if they want to win this game. Ray Lewis leads the D with 139 tackles to go with his 2 sacks and 2 interceptions. He's also an emotional leader on the defense. Outside Linebacker Terrell Suggs finished the season with 11 sacks for Baltimore, and he'll get at least one big one Sunday. He's so quick off the line, stopping Charles and Jones should be no problem for the Ravens. Charles is also a receiving threat with three scores on 45 receptions.Strong Safety Dawan Landry and the rest of the secondary will have to keep an eye on Charles when he rolls out for the pass to keep him from breaking free.
This is going to be a bruising game between two well-matched teams, but Baltimore is the more balanced and experienced of these two squads. The total package for Baltimore is much more impressive. They've put together an incredible season, and though Cassel and his Chiefs are a tough introduction to the playoffs for the Ravens, they will prevail. This could be a low-scoring affair, but Baltimore should outscore Kansas City by at least 10 points.