After just four wins last season, the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) were an after-thought before the season began as most preseason predictions had the San Diego Chargers winning the AFC West. Yet, the Chiefs, behind a strong running game and a much-improved defense under D coordinator Romeo Crennel, improved by +6 games and have found their way into the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
The Chiefs will host the Baltimore Ravens (12-4) in an AFC Wild Card game with the Ravens listed as -3 point favorites. Here are the keys, though, to Kansas City pulling-off another surprise:
Run the Ball
The Chiefs game revolves around the run. Kansas City was the #1 running team in the NFL. Jamaal Charles led the team with more than 1400 yards and a 6.4 average yards per carry. He also had 10 runs of twenty yards or more. Thomas Jones was the thunder to Charles’ lightning, nearly gaining 900 yards and providing the tough yards when needed. They’ll need to be at their best when they face the Ravens’ top-ranked rush defense led by the incomparable Ray Lewis.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has had a breakout year for the Ravens with 25 TDs against just 10 interceptions but in the Ravens four losses Flacco threw 5 INTs and had a costly fumble. The Chiefs can get after the quarterback with 38 sacks, including 14.5 from Tamba Hali. The Ravens are vulnerable to safety blitzes so look out for rookie Eric Berry off the edge.
The Chiefs forced 23 TOs while the Ravens barely committed one per game. Kansas City also scored three defensive touchdowns off interceptions so the big play takeaway is crucial in this game if the Chiefs are to pull the upset.
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