Eavesdropping On The Enemy: Chiefs/Ravens

Each week this season I go undercover and spy on the opposing fans of each Chiefs opponent. I believe the fans of the individual teams are the true experts on the strengths and weaknesses of their team. Each week I'll attempt to find out how they view the upcoming game, how their offense will fare against the Chiefs defense and how their defense will fare against the Chiefs offense.

This week the Chiefs look to show they have the desire to be a playoff team this year as they host the Baltimore Ravens. The Chiefs are currently tied with four other teams for the final two wildcard spots in the AFC. If the season ended today, the Chiefs would be on the outside looking in again. With four games remaining the two teams that show the most desire and refuse-to-lose attitude will be in the playoffs. The question the Chiefs must answer this week is do they have that attitude in them? The answer comes with a strong test. The Ravens are one of if not the most physical and intense teams in the NFL, particularly on defense. Coming off of a disappointing loss to a division rival, they will bring plenty of intensity to Arrowhead. The Chiefs will look to exceed that level of intensity.

This week I spied on The Ravens Insider board at Ravens Insider. The fans on this board are very confident in their defense's ability to shut down Larry Johnson and the Chiefs offense. They are also confident their team will put an end to the Chiefs December home winning streak.

Ravens Offense vs. Chiefs Defense
On offense, we simply must take some downfield shots to loosen things up or they will eat up the short passing game and stop the running game. Look for D. Williams to be a key. djdell – Ravens Insider

Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson were passing like Joe Namath in his prime against KC Sunday. We should be able to do the same. SpikeMarlin – Ravens Insider

I look for McNair to have a kick ass come back type of game after his total embarrassment against Cincy. I expect him to start off establishing the run with JL, while making much better use of Heap, then use the short to mid range passing game to perfection. He's going to look sharp and precise, maybe going deep a couple of times to stretch KC's D. In short, he's going to do the things he didn't do against Cincy. He's an established veteran, and even though he's quiet and doesn't talk trash, he's got a lot of pride inside, and he knows he played like **** the last time he took the field, so he's going to be coming out to prove that he's better than he looked in Cincy. He'll be fully rested and ready to nail this thing down. skaybaltimore – Ravens Insider

The Spy's Analysis:
The Ravens are not an explosive offense. They don't throw the ball down field very often. What they do well is provide their defense with field position to wreak havoc and they don't turn the ball over. The Chiefs defense will need to stop the run and force turnovers this week. Ravens quarterback Steve McNair is a crafty veteran who will not be shaken by blitzes or different looks. This is not a game the Chiefs can scheme a win out of on defense. Pure and simple, Tamba Hali and Jared Allen will need to beat their opponents and the defensive tackles will need to push the middle of the line backwards. The linebackers will need to exhibit desire and passion by flying to the ball and the defensive backs have to maintain coverage. It's all about heart and desire this week.

Ravens Defense vs. Chiefs Offense:
The key to this game is going to be Haloti and whether he can clog up the middle. I suspect that the Chiefs will go right up the gut and try to tear the defense apart. If Haloti can stop them, then Ray and company will smother Johnson. Other wise it's going to be a long day and they will run us into submission thereby opening up their passing game. The key is in the middle. djdell – Ravens Insider

I don't see any reason, why we wouldn't stop LJ. We've made essentially every team one-dimensional all season (by completely stuffing the run). And I don't see that changing on Sunday. Lance1086 – Ravens Insider

Ngata isn't the key. The run defense will be fine. The key is stopping the best TE in the league. Our defensive backs will have their hands full with Tony Gonzalez. LJ will more than meet his match against the number one rush defense in the NFL. Kevlar1972 – Ravens Insider

The Ravens will neutralize Tony G by sending the blitz and forcing Tony to stay in and block...same goes for LJ. We get out to a 2 score lead and the 2ndary will start to make plays. Bmore71 – Ravens Insider

The Spy's Analysis:
This is the matchup everyone is talking about: Larry Johnson (one of the league's best running backs) vs. the Ravens defense (one of the league's best defenses). The Ravens blitz and stunt the majority of the game. The Chiefs offense will need to maintain diversity. They cannot allow the Ravens to make them one dimensional. They likely won't score at will against the Ravens so they will need to move the ball to win the field position battle and then take advantage when they get great field position. Offensive coordinator Mike Solari cannot call the game timidly. He must attack the Ravens as the Chiefs did on Monday night a few seasons ago.

The Spy's Summary:
This game is all about heart, desire, passion and redemption. In all reality, the playoffs start this week for the Chiefs. Their poor AFC record gives them a major disadvantage in the tie breaker race in the AFC wildcard race. That means the Chiefs must win and keep winning. The Arrowhead crowd will indeed bring a playoff atmosphere and the Chiefs will need to feed off of that and lay it all on the line. This team believes they are a playoff contender. They need to play like one on Sunday if they are to be one in January.

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