It’s a showdown of two of the biggest star quarterbacks in the NFL as Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens host Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game Sunday at 3 p.m. at M&T Stadium. The third-seeded Chiefs are coming off a dramatic win over the Bills and in their sixth straight AFC title game. They are defending Super Bowl champions - and Taylor Swift’s favorite team. Baltimore won the Super Bowl in 2012 and 2000.
NFL: Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs Picks
Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs Analysis
Jackson is almost certain to win his second MVP award after this season is done. All his marvelous talents were on display in the win over Houston in the Divisional Round. He was accurate passing and Houston could not contain him in the pocket. The Ravens defense is built differently from back in the day, they are loaded in the back seven, and finished No. 1 overall and No. 1 against the run. That defense will try to shut down Mahomes and friends.
Injury Report: There’s good news on the injury front for the Ravens, their elite TE Mark Andrews may make his return after ankle surgery on Sunday. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler and one of Jackson’s favorite targets. He practiced all last week. Baltimore might get back DL Marlon Humphrey who has been dealing with a calf injury since Week 17. If he practices well, he will play.
This will be the fourth meeting between Jackson and Mahomes. Mahomes is 3-1 all-time in those meetings. This is the first time they’ve met in the playoffs. KC showed serious heart in the win over the Bills. The defense closed up in the second half after Buffalo ran all over them in the first half. Even though everyone knows Mahomes is looking for Kelce, they can’t stop it. KC does such a good job with formations and motion that they always seem to get him open.
Injury Report: The Chiefs had three key players get hurt against the Bills. The biggest injury is to All-Pro guard Joe Thuney, but an MRI showed just a strained pectoral muscle, not a tear. So he probably is a go. Linebacker Willie Gay Jr. had a scary neck injury, but is cleared and Ok. Safety Mike Edwards is in concussion protocol and his status for Sunday won’t be known until later in the week.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs Key Points and Trends
- It’s been Mahomes vs. Jackson four times in their NFL career. The four meetings have been decided by an average of 5.3 points.
- Kansas City is 5-0 in their last five games as underdogs and 11-8 against the spread this season.
- Baltimore is 12-6 against the spread. This is their fifth AFC Championship Game appearance and they are 2-2.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs Match Prediction
Sometimes these Championship Games feel like a changing of the guard moment, when a new team rises up to dethrone a powerful champ. That’s not the case here. These are two teams in their prime and this should be a wonderful match-up.
This game all comes down to containment. No one can totally stop Mahomes, and no one can totally stop Jackson, but who can do it better?
The big key to me is that the Ravens defense is so good against the run that I think they keep Isiah Pacheco in check and force Mahomes to do it all by himself, but you know what, he is still good enough to beat the Ravens.
Baltimore has figured out how to use Jackson’s skills at just the right time. They don’t call many designated runs, but when they need a play, they do. The weather shouldn’t be a factor. It should be close to 50 degrees and no rain. No advantage for either team there.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs Best Bet
This is a bit of a hedge in that I’d take the Ravens on the moneyline, because I do think they are just a tick better on defense than KC. I could see this coming down to a last-second FG by All-World Ravens kicker Justin Tucker. I just don’t think KC has enough weapons outside of Kelce on offense to get on top of Baltimore and win it.
Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.