KICKOFF: Monday Night 9:00 ET (8:00 CST)
TV: ABC, Al Michaels, John Madden, Michele Tafoya
SERIES: 3rd meeting. Chiefs are 2-0 against the Ravens after winning games in Baltimore in 1999 and last year, 17-10.
2004 RANKINGS: Chiefs: offense 18th (6th rush, 23rd pass); defense 23rd (29th rush, 16th pass). Ravens: offense 22nd (2nd rush, 31st pass); defense 16th (10th rush, 20th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME:
How many Chiefs does it take to stop Ravens RB Jamal Lewis or will his apparent plea bargain be a hotter topic and distraction than trying to carve up the Chiefs run defense? Kansas City has struggled against the run and will have to creep the safeties forward to help against Lewis. The Ravens' passing game is hardly threatening, but WR Randy Hymes has emerged as a downfield threat for QB Kyle Boller, who has improved his accuracy; though he has more interceptions than touchdowns on the young 2004 season. The Ravens' defense believes it can handle the Chiefs' receivers one-on-one, and will focus its attention on RB Priest Holmes. They key is whether the Chiefs' offensive line can create gaps for Holmes to exploit. If not, the Ravens can stuff the box and make sure TE Tony Gonzalez is double covered at all times.
Chiefs: 0-3 for the first time since 1980. ... QB Trent Green will start his 52nd consecutive game with Kansas City, breaking Len Dawson's franchise record. ... Three teams have begun a season 0-3 and gone on to reach the playoffs. Ravens: LB Terrell Suggs has 15 sacks in 19 games. ... 40-2 under Coach Brian Billick when having a positive turnover margin. ... LB Ray Lewis has 44 tackles in three Monday night games. ... Next three opponents have a combined 1-7 record.
PREDICTION: Ravens 19-17
CHIEFS PERSONNEL NEWS:
WR Eddie Kennison did not practice again Thursday because of his sore hamstring and is looking doubtful for Baltimore on Monday. Kennison also did not play last week in the loss to Houston.
WR Dante Hall did not practice Thursday but returned on Friday because of a swollen lip, but he should be available for Monday night's game in Baltimore. You read that right, its lip with an "L." Hall got belted in the mouth in the first quarter of the Houston loss last week. He continued to play, but the lip blew up to roughly the size of the Met Life blimp and Hall needed antibiotics for an infection and was held out of practice as a precaution. Hall's kickoff return in the Baltimore game last year provided the game-winning points in the final five minutes.
WR Samie Parker, a rookie who has battled injuries through the preseason and the first three games of the season, was back at practice Thursday and Friday for the first time in weeks. He might suit up for his first NFL game Sunday as he is one of only four healthy receivers on the KC active roster.
DE Vonnie Holliday returned to practice Thursday after missing a second straight game against Houston with a groin injury. He may not be returned immediately to his starting position, however, as replacement John Browning, a transplanted DT, has been playing very well there. The Chiefs will likely use Holliday off the bench as Browning has made the defensive line more formidable by playing at end than tackle.
CB William Bartee, who missed the Houston loss while feeling the effects of an earlier concussion, tried to return to practice Friday but Dick Vermeil ruled him out of the game after his attempt to get back on the field. That means Julian Battle and Benny Sapp will work as the nickel backs against Baltimore.
RAVENS PERSONNEL NEWS:
C Mike Flynn has returned to practice on Friday but will not play Monday because he is still recovering from a broken collarbone. He will be replaced by Casey Rabach for the third straight game.
WR Travis Taylor did not practice because of a groin injury and will not play Monday. He will be replaced by Randy Hymes who has shown an ability to stretch the defense and that give Boller another option.
CB Deion Sanders is expected to return after missing last game with a hamstring injury. He ran back punts and worked on the team's nickel packages in practice on Friday and he was upgraded from doubtful to questionable. Still the fact that this game is on Monday Night might be the only reason Sanders is trying to play. He's obviously nowhere the talent he was when he retired years ago.
NT Kelly Gregg practiced for the first time in two weeks and should start Monday. He had missed the past two games with a knee injury.
FB Ovie Mughelli is doubtful for Monday's game with a hamstring injury. His presence on special teams will be missed against dangerous return man Dante Hall.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Kansas City Chiefs - The Chiefs insist they know how to go keep Baltimore's Jamal Lewis from racing through their 29th-ranked rushing defenses when the two teams meet Monday night in Baltimore.
"The key is not to let him get going," said Chiefs linebacker Monty Beisel, who knows that is easier said than done. "When he gets his legs moving, he's hard to bring down. We've got to do our best to stop him at the line of scrimmage or behind it." Yeah, that happens a lot. Like when Lewis ran for 2,066 yards last year, the second-best single-season total in NFL history.
At least the Chiefs kept Lewis below his individual game average last year. Lewis ran for 115 yards in Kansas City's 17-10 win in Baltimore a year ago. He needed 26 rushes to get that many. Kansas City's Swiss Cheese run defense got at least a taste of respectability last week. It held Houston's Domanick Davis, No. 2 in total yards from scrimmage coming into last week's game, to only 12 rushing yards on 10 carries and 1 reception for 15 yards before he was injured early in the second half.
They passed that test last week, even though they flunked the course overall in a loss to the Texans. Lewis, however, is like graduate school, especially when playing in Baltimore where the Ravens have won eight straight games. But knowing what they have to do and then getting it done against Lewis and his imposing offensive lines are two different things.
"He's a great back running behind a great offensive line; we have our work cut out for us," said Chiefs DT Lional Dalton, a former Raven. "We've got to hit him early and keep him from getting on a streak. Because once he gets going, it's hard to stop him.
"There's no secret to what they want to do. It's gonna be smash mouth football, a 9-on-7 drill the whole game. They're gonna try to beat us up and run the ball down our throat."
Baltimore Ravens: - The first Monday night game for Ravens pass rusher Terrell Suggs could represent the biggest test of the season in Kansas City left tackle Willie Roaf. The nine-time Pro Bowl lineman has faced big-name pass rushers such as Reggie White, Charles Haley, Kevin Greene and Chris Doleman. Because Roaf is an established blocker, the Chiefs might let him go one-on-one with Suggs and not use a tight end or running back to double team. He has given up just one sack in three games this season.
What Suggs lacks in experience (he turns 22 next month), he makes up with talent. Unlike a lot of pass rushers who rely either on speed or power, Suggs combines both to keep tackles off balance. He has a tremendous burst with his first two steps, but he has surprised coaches and teammates with his strength to push past bigger lineman.
Since he entered the league as a first-round draft pick last season, Suggs has registered 15 sacks in 19 games. Only three players -- the New York Giants' Michael Strahan (21 1/2), Chicago's Adewale Ogunleye (17) and Rice (16) -- have harassed quarterbacks more over that time.
"To me, he's the premier pass rusher in the AFC," said Ravens defensive line coach Rex Ryan, who works with Suggs on his pass-rushing technique. "He really is unbelievable. The great thing is the kid is only going to get better."
The biggest strides made by Suggs are in his development as an every-down player. As a rookie last season, he failed miserably to convert from a college defensive end to pro outside linebacker. The Ravens used him solely as a pass-rush end, a role he dominated so thoroughly he won the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
This offseason, Suggs showed more determination in transforming into a linebacker. Under the direction of outside linebackers coach Jeff Fitzgerald, Suggs learned how to attack the run but not get sucked in by misdirection. He also has become adept at dropping back in coverage, which means resisting the urge to rush the quarterback every down.
"He runs the complete package now," Coach Brian Billick said. "He is proud of that and is becoming a great professional. Just to think how young this kid is and how well he is playing, it's exciting."