Campbell's Keys: Chiefs V. Ravens

After a disappointing performance against the lowly Browns a week ago, the Chiefs now have to face the "Real Contender" of the AFC North. Are the Chiefs up to the challenge? Who is going to cause the most problems for Kansas City? How can Kansas City run the ball against the NFL's second-ranked rushing defense? We look at these obstacles and many more in this weeks Campbell's Keys.

Although the Chiefs offense had a great deal of success against Browns defense, they couldn't move the ball when they had to at the end of regulation and in overtime. This is a tad alarming because Cleveland's defense was a pathetic lot prior to facing the Chiefs. They surely unmasked some of KC's offensive weaknesses against the 3-4 defense.

Unfortunately for Kansas City the Ravens utilize a variety of defensive fronts, but out of all of their packages they are most proficient in the 3-4. Trevor Pryce, Haloti Ngata, and Kelly Gregg have been almost unblockable all season on the defensive line. When that defensive line is flanked by Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas at outside linebacker they can be every bit as vicious as San Diego's front five (the 3-4 often becomes a five-man front in both the Ravens and Chargers defense).

On offense the Ravens are better than they ever where when Kyle Boller was their starting quarterback, but Steve McNair hasn't added the type of explosiveness I thought he would when the Ravens snatched him from Tennessee. Despite all of their offensive weapons the Ravens have basically sputtered along, but thanks to their defense it has never really been a concern. If the Chiefs are unable to generate any semblance of pass rush, however, the Ravens sleeping offense could awaken. If McNair is allowed as much time as Derrick Anderson had in last week's game this contest will get ugly in a hurry.

Keys

It's no secret that center Casey Wiegmann is incapable of blocking large nose tackles, but there was no excuse for the way he was owned by Ted Washington last weekend. Don't be surprised if he struggles again this week against Kelly Gregg. Wiegmann is out of his element when the Chiefs are forced to run between the tackles and in my opinion it's time to start looking for a replacement during the offseason.

Rex Ryan's aggressive style of defense is reminiscent of Jim Johnson's defense in Philadelphia. Like Brian Dawkins in Philly, Ed Reed plays close to the line of scrimmage and seemingly sticks his nose in the middle of every play. The one saving grace the Chiefs may have in this situation is catching the Ravens in single-deep coverage and matching Tony Gonzalez or a wide receiver up against rookie safety Dawan Landry.

When running the ball against the Ravens the Chiefs would be wise to use as many trap plays as possible. These types of runs are effective against aggressive fronts because they allow the defenders to pass the line of scrimmage only to be blindsided a second later by a pulling guard or tackle. If you want to see massive holes in a downhill defense just start pulling a few of these out of the playbook.

If the Chiefs want to throw the ball they'll be better served to limit Trent Green to three-step drops and exploit the Ravens linebackers using underneath routes. This isn't an approach the Chiefs should take just because it alleviates the offensive line in pass protection. It is also a sound strategy because there is plenty of open real estate where shallow routes are normally run due to the aggressive nature of the defense. If safeties and linebackers are constantly attacking with blitzes and dogs then the wisest thing to do is throw right at the area they've vacated.

Against Cleveland the Chiefs run defense was shredded by Reuben Droughns and the NFL's worst offensive line. I would expect the Chiefs front seven to come out this week and do everything in their power to prove they are better than last week's performance. The return of linebacker Derrick Johnson should help as should more playing time from the rookie safeties (I expect to see more of Page and Pollard anyway).

I would also like to note that Jamal Lewis doesn't seem to be the same player he was three years ago. He isn't even a shadow of that player to be exact. He's much more tentative than he should be and he often indecisively tip toes up to the line of scrimmage.

Lewis' offensive line hasn't helped him much either. It appears to me that Brian Billick thinks he can just plug in "guys" and his offense will be okay. Well, what I noticed about their offensive line is that while they might be big, they are awfully sloppy. Kansas City's front seven needs to take advantage of that sloppy play and spend the majority of their time living on Baltimore's side of the line of scrimmage. In essence, the Kansas City linebackers can't just drop back all afternoon, they need to impersonate the Ravens defense as best they can.

Kyle Turley's shoulder is hurt and I don't consider that a negative. Put Chris Terry in so you can run right over the top of Adalius Thomas.

Watch for the bootleg, the Ravens ran it fairly often against the Bengals and McNair can still kill you with his feet.

Tamba Hali was silenced in Cleveland. The Chiefs need him to show back up this week. History has shown that McNair will force his throws if you begin to pressure him.

Blitz Derrick Johnson, blitz Derrick Johnson, blitz Derrick Johnson. The Right side of the Ravens line isn't very good and they don't recognize blitzes too well.

Kris Wilson will be asked to do his best Tony Richardson impression this week and get a hat on Ray Lewis. If he can, this would blow the Chiefs running game wide open.

CHIEFS (7-5)

QUESTIONABLE

OT Kyle Turley - Shoulder

DE Jimmy Wilkerson - Hamstring

PROBABLE

OLB Keyaron Fox - Back

TE Tony Gonzalez - Shoulder

OLB Derrick Johnson - Ankle

SS Sammy Knight - Ankle

DT James Reed - Groin

RAVENS (9-3)

OUT

OLB Dan Cody -Knee

RB Musa Smith -Neck

QUESTIONABLE

TE Daniel Wilcox - Thigh

PROBABLE

LB Dennis Haley - Ankle

CB Ronnie Prude - Illness

G Keydrick Vincent - Thigh

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