Baltimore Ravens @ Kansas City Chiefs – Week 3 Statistical Preview
By Ben Rolfe
Using the numbers from the last two weeks and 2018, what should we be looking out for in Sky Sports’ Week 2 Sunday 6pm offering.
Last week we got a matchup between two 1-0 teams and this week we get two 2-0 teams facing off. The AFC has had three stand out teams so far this season and this week we get two of those teams going head to head. The Kansas City Chiefs have picked up right where they left off last season in the first two weeks. However, the Baltimore Ravens have been the feel good story of the season, with Lamar Jackson putting the Cardinals and Dolphins to the sword in the first two weeks.
This season we here at the touchdown want to help you understand more about what you can expect or are seeing if you choose to watch the full game on Sky as opposed to Red Zone. You can check out the superb piece by Tyler Arthur about how to see what the QB is seeing from your couch here. Each week I will be taking a look at the stats from this season and last, and helping you understand what to expect on Sunday.
Using these numbers, we will try and get a feel for how the teams might attack each other. What elements will be crucial in deciding the outcome, and what might be a bluff? Additionally, each week we will look at those all-important third down and Red Zone numbers. Along with turnovers they are the most crucial statistics in the game of football. Prolong drives and score touchdowns when you get inside the 20 and you stand a good chance of winning. Settle for punting and kicking field goals and you are fighting an uphill battle.
Let’s take a look at our incredible Week 3 6pm contest as the Baltimore Ravens head into Kansas City to take on the Chiefs.
Can the Chiefs keep firing on offense?
Patrick Mahomes exploded onto the scene last season, finishing first in the league in passing touchdowns, QBR and adjusted net passing yards per attempt. However, what made Mahomes so difficult to stop was his ability to scramble for 8.9 yards per attempt when required. Among quarterbacks who has 10 or more scrambles he ranked 11th in the league in yards per scramble. His ability to move and create things with his legs made him an impossible weapon to stop at times.
Mahomes was also brilliant at creating opportunities for his pass catchers. He finished second in the league behind Nick Mullens in yards after catch (YAC) per attempt last season. The combination of that and his 6th ranked average depth of target (aDOT) of nine yards led to him finishing second in the league in passing yards. The chef beneficiary of those YAC from Mahomes was speedster Tyreek Hill, who finished fourth in wide receivers in YAC per attempt with 6.1. With Hill out the Chiefs will be looking for one of their other receivers to step and play that role.
Run game woes?
Which Ravens Offense will we see?
It would be unfair to look too closely at the Ravens from 2018 as their offense has looked a different beast this season to anything, we saw last season. Lamar Jackson has a 71.9% completion rate, is averaging 298 yards per game through the air and has seven passing touchdowns (one more than he had in seven starts last season). However, we have seen two different versions of Jackson so far this season. In Week 1 the Ravens logged over 200 yards of rushing offense, and Jackson had just six. Last week they had 182 yards on the ground and Jackson had 120.
That is the beauty of this offense. Key against Jackson and Mark Ingram will rip you to shreds as he did in Week 1. Focus on Miller and Jackson will go for 100 yards of his own. They also have Gus Edwards and Justice Hill who can cycle in and keep this offense fresh. However, if you key against the run, then Jackson has shown he can drop back and throw dimes to receivers. Yes, he has faced two bad defenses, but he has still put the ball in the perfect spot a lot, and the Chiefs defense is hardly renowned for its quality.
There are two people on this offense we should not forget. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown has 233 yards and two touchdowns on 12 receptions and 18 targets. The other one is tight end Mark Andrews, who has 220 yards and two touchdowns of his own. These two have offered plenty of options for Jackson when he throws and should be able to have solid days against a questionable Chiefs defense.
Is the Weather Going to Spoil the Party?
The weather in Kansas City is expected to be wet and wild this weekend. With storms predicted and winds up to 15 mph the passing games of these two teams could be hampered. That would absolutely put the ball in the court of the Ravens, whose run game has looked extremely impressive this season.
However, the weather is not going to ruin the party so to speak, because the Chiefs need to prove they can do it whatever the weather. They need to get their run game back to where it was last year, or they are going to find themselves struggling at times this season. Oh, and this is the home opener in Arrowhead, no way is the weather going to quieten down one of the best crowds in the NFL.
Third Down and Red Zone
The Chiefs were incredibly efficient across the board last season. They ranked second in third down conversion (47.2%) and red zone touchdown rate (71.8%). Incredibly they also converted on 80% of fourth downs, which ranked third in the league. Those numbers led to them leading the league in average yards and points per drive, as well as scoring% (52.6). Their issue came on defense, where they ranked 25th in the league in third down conversion (41.5%) and 31st in red zone touchdown rate (72.4%). That led to them finishing in the bottom five in average points, yards, plays and time per drive. This Baltimore offense is a group that could wear down the Chiefs defense and keep the offense off the field if the Chiefs cannot make plays on third down and stop them.
So far this season the Chiefs offense are top five in third down conversions, but a concerning 27th in red zone touchdown percentage, scoring on jut three of their eight trips into the red zone. They have also continued to struggle on third down defensively, allowing a 45.8% conversion rate. The Ravens have not faced the toughest competition this season but so far, they have converted 56% of third down conversions and allowed just 23.8% conversion rate. This will be their biggest test of the season against a very good offense, but so far the results have been very good.
Image credit: USA Today