The Kansas City Chiefs escaped the Buffalo Bills and will now play in another AFC Championship Game. This time, it’s against the Baltimore Ravens, who had the best season in the AFC this year. What can we expect in this AFC Championship Game?
- Ravens -3 (+100)
- Over 44.5 (-110)
Sunday, January 28, 2024 – 03:00 PM ET at M&T Stadium
You can never count out the Kansas City Chiefs in January. The Chiefs haven’t missed the AFC Championship Game since Patrick Mahomes became quarterback of the Chiefs. Kansas City’s offense had been very inconsistent this season. However, the Chiefs have scored at least 26 points in two playoff games and find themselves in the top four of the NFL again.
They’ll hit the road to take on the Baltimore Ravens in M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens only had to play one game in the playoffs after earning a bye week to finish with the No. 1 seed in the AFC standings.
Ravens’ Road to the Playoffs
The Ravens were a bit rusty in their matchup against the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional Playoffs. At halftime, the game was tied 10-10 after the Ravens allowed a punt return for a touchdown. But in the second half, Baltimore put the foot on the gas and earned a 34-10 victory to move on in the playoffs.
The Ravens didn’t allow a single offensive touchdown in that game.
However, it might be harder to defend Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes has completed over 62% of passes in two games for the Chiefs in the playoffs. He’s also thrown three touchdowns and has no interceptions. Beyond that, he’s averaged 7.5 yards per rush on eight carries.
He’s earned a long play of at least 24 yards in both playoff games.
KC’s Running Game
However, what stands out the most is the Chiefs’ running game with Isiah Pacheco. The Ravens have a very good secondary and an awesome pass rush. But there are ways to exploit the run defense of the Ravens.
Pacheco has rushed for 186 yards in two playoff games and has added 4.8 yards per carry in those games. Against the Bills, he added 6.5 yards a rush and has now scored a touchdown in six straight games dating back to the regular season.
When the running game is working, the entire offense will work for Patrick Mahomes.
Meanwhile, the Ravens are also going to run it down the Chiefs’ throat. Baltimore used four different runners at least eight times in their win over Houston. Lamar Jackson led the team in rushing. But Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, and Dalvin Cook all got their fair share of carries in that game against the Texans. That allows everyone to stay fresh and gives them an opportunity to really commit to the run game against any opponent.
Against the Texans, the Ravens ran 42 times but only completed 16 passes. With the Chiefs weaker against the run, the Ravens should have even more success running the football.
Expect a Defensive Showdown
Kansas City and Baltimore are both terrific defenses. However, the Ravens stand out more in the secondary and have a pass rush that is more dangerous. For that reason, I’ll back the Ravens at -3 (+100)
NFL Pick: Ravens -3 (+100) at Caesars Sportsbook
What About The Total?
I know I just mentioned the defenses. Baltimore’s has been slightly better this season in the passing game. However, the Ravens have missed tackles and aren’t superb against the run. The Chiefs are very alike. They’re good against the pass but struggle against the run. Therefore, I still expect some points. The Ravens will be able to make a more significant stop or two to earn the win.
The Ravens have the likely MVP at quarterback in Lamar Jackson, and the Chiefs have one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Patrick Mahomes. You can’t count out these quarterbacks, no matter the conditions.
The Ravens fans will be loud and could force Mahomes and the Chiefs into mistakes. That all bodes well for the Ravens. However, Mahomes just knocked off the Bills in one of the loudest atmospheres he’s likely ever played in. He didn’t make any interceptions or mistakes and played well enough to escape a very hot Bills squad.
With the total at just 44.5, the Over is the play. As I said before, the Chiefs have added at least 26 points in back-to-back games, and the Ravens just found a way to get to 34 points against a Texans team that made the Cleveland Browns look silly with two defensive touchdowns.
Therefore, let’s take the Over at 44.5.
NFL Pick: Over 44.5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
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