What We Saw: Chiefs vs. Ravens

Erik Smith breaks down the impressive display from the Kansas City Chiefs as they set themselves apart from the competition in the AFC.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens

 

In a highly anticipated Monday Night Football matchup, the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes separated themselves from the pack in the AFC as they routed the Baltimore Ravens 34-20. Outside of allowing a 93-yard kick return touchdown to Devin Duvernay, the Chiefs played a near-perfect first half and went into the locker room leading 27-10. While the Chiefs did hit a lull in the second half and allowed the Ravens to pull within a score at the start of the fourth quarter, KC immediately responded with a 13 play, 75-yard drive to put the game away. Mahomes looks, somehow, better than he ever has, while the Ravens left us with some serious concerns on offense, especially from a fantasy football perspective.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

 

Quarterback

 

Patrick Mahomes: 31/42, 385 yards, 4 TDs | 4 carries, 26 yards, 1 TD

 

Patrick Mahomes was on point from the start, hitting Tyreek Hill for a big gain on their opening drive and marching down the field. Mahomes scored KC’s first touchdown on the ground, as he capped off the drive on a designed rollout option near goalline where it looked like he could have passed if the defense had played it differently.

The next drive, after a false start on 3rd and 1, Mahomes hit CEH on a beautifully designed screen pass to pick up the first down. Mahomes looked so calm under pressure, even against this Ravens defense, as he dodged pressure, regrouped, and looked downfield consistently. Andy Reid put on a clinic on that second drive for the Chiefs, designing some of the most creative plays you will see all year. Fittingly, the drive was capped off by an underhanded shovel pass to fullback Anthony Sherman that faked me out so badly that I lost sight of the ball while sitting on my couch.

Later in the first half, Mahomes completely took over the game on his own. He started with perfect touch on a 20-yard touchdown to Hill. Then later, he hung in the pocket and delivered deep on a double-move bomb to Mecole Hardman for a touchdown. Mahomes shredded the blitz in the first half, and I hope we all appreciate the truly remarkable player that we are able to watch on a weekly basis.

The offense stalled in the second half, though due to little fault of Mahomes’ as he was not sacked and did not turn the ball over. He put a finishing touch on the game by throwing a touchdown pass to LT Eric Fisher at the goal line. Mahomes is the definition of matchup-dependent in fantasy football.

 

 

Running Backs

 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire: 20 carries, 64 yards | 6 targets, 5 receptions, 70 yards

Darrel Williams: 2 carries, 6 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 1 yard

Darwin Thompson: 2 carries, 11 yards, 1 fumble lost | 2 targets

Anthony Sherman: 1 carry, 0 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards, 1 TD

 

Some fantasy managers may look at this performance from Clyde Edwards-Helaire as a bit of a disappointment, but there was a lot of encouraging usage in this one. CEH was split out wide at the goal line on the opening drive and had a pass go off his hands for near TD. He then ran to flats next play and drew coverage towards him, allowing Mahomes to run in for a touchdown behind him. Edwards-Helaire had an impressive run up the middle on the second drive, pushing through the pile with excellent balance and fighting through much larger defenders. He caught a screen on 3rd and 6 for a first down to move the chains. He was stuffed in the red zone on a run out of shotgun from the 6, and he was held without a touchdown for the second time this year, so there are slight concerns there. But he is so clearly the Chiefs best running back, and his passing game usage is very encouraging. That was on full display to start the second half when he beat linebacker Patrick Queen on a corner route for a nice gain.

Darwin Thompson was actually the first in the game behind Edwards-Helaire, but he was hung out to dry on the first play on a rare miss from Mahomes, and the play was broken up. They later ran a fake reverse screen that was tipped before it could get to him. Thompson made a big mistake in the second half, with a fumble as the Chiefs were about to put the game totally away, as a Baltimore defender put their helmet on the ball.

Darrel Williams got a few chances but didn’t look explosive at all, and would only have fantasy relevance if CEH suffered an injury. Fullback Anthony Sherman caught a freebie touchdown on the beautifully designed play shown below.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Tyreek Hill: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 77 yards, 1 TD | 2 carries, 25 yards

Sammy Watkins: 8 targets, 7 receptions, 62 yards

Demarcus Robinson: 1 target

Mecole Hardman: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 81 yards, 1 TD

Travis Kelce: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 87 yards

Eric Fisher: 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards, 1 TD

 

Tyreek Hill was involved from start, as he received an end-around and deep comeback on the opening drive, the latter of which he almost sprung for a touchdown. He later received a short red zone target, though he was unable to reach the end zone. Hill’s motion in the backfield caused havoc on the Ravens defense all night, as they clearly chased him wherever he went, opening plays for other Chiefs players. After the Baltimore corners finally started playing up on the receivers, Hill made them pay with a 20-yard touchdown where corners accidentally picked each other and he beat them over the top.

 

 

Sammy Watkins had a solid if unspectacular day. The Chiefs got him one on one on a big catch in the red zone for a first down on third and 9. Later he had a red zone catch where he came up just short of a touchdown. Watkins doesn’t have that explosiveness that he used to have, but he fills a decent enough role on one of the NFL’s best passing offenses.

Mecole Hardman had his long-awaited breakout in 2020 and started it with a catch coming back across the field on a scramble drill. His big play was on 3rd and 14, where he ran a double move for a long touchdown bomb to break the game open. Hardman just missed a second first-half touchdown as a perfect pass from Mahomes just went off of his hands. I wouldn’t call it an outright drop, but it certainly could have been caught. Hardman was still out-snapped by Demarcus Robinson and saw just 28 snaps compared to the 60+ snaps of the primary receivers, so this likely wasn’t a major event in Hardman’s rest of season outlook. These games are always possible, but predicting them will be difficult.

There’s almost no need to write up Travis Kelce anymore, he has that same rock-solid role week in and week out. Despite the big play receiving options, it was Kelce that led the team with 87 receiving yards as Mahomes spread the ball around. KC ran a really nice fake screen to Hill, setting up Kecle for a catch up the middle on one of his better receptions of the night. He’s the most consistent fantasy tight end in the league.

 

Baltimore Ravens

 

Quarterback

 

Lamar Jackson: 15/28, 97 yards, 1 TD, 4 sacks, 1 fumble lost | 9 carries, 83 yards

 

Things started out great for Lamar Jackson on the opening drive. He broke off a 32-yard rush on 3rd down as I wrote “too easy” in my notepad.

 

 

After running it all over the Chiefs on the opening drive, the Ravens had a questionable play call on 3rd and 3 in the red zone, as Lamar threw a one-yard out to Willie Snead IV to end up short and settle for a field goal. He later had a 10+ yard rush called back for tripping on one of the linemen, a questionable call that derailed the drive. On 3rd and long on that drive, he evaded pressure in the pocket, but fumbled and nearly lost it.

As the Ravens fell behind they somewhat abandoned the option run game that worked so well early, and looked more and more out of sorts as the game went on. Jackson was too often throwing into tight spaces to covered receivers. He would later lose a fumble and then missed a wide-open, nearly uncovered short pass to end the half as the offense looked to be reeling.

Baltimore tried to get the screen game going, but they weren’t hitting on that either. Lamar just missed a deep throw to Marquise Brown that really would have provided a spark, but thankfully took off for a long scramble on the next play. He had a play-action bootleg for a nice run, and Jackson looked at his best, unsurprisingly, when he was allowed to take off and run.

Jackson wasn’t helped by his receivers either, as Brown dropped a few passes throughout, and Mark Andrews dropped a surefire 26-yard touchdown. Later, a drive stalled on a false start by the offensive line on a 4th and 1 attempt, and the Ravens had to settle for a field goal. Jackson finally threaded one in late to Nick Boyle for a red zone touchdown, providing a brief spark for his fantasy managers. But yet again, Jackson missed a shot down the sideline to Brown that could have been a long TD. He began to look unsure in the pocket late, taking sacks and looking uneasy overall. This was a game where the Ravens strayed from their formula, Jackson got little help, and he lost his way. There will certainly be much better days ahead, but this offense should think about simplifying things and recommitting to the running game going forward.

 

Running Backs

 

Mark Ingram II: 7 carries, 30 yards | 1 target

J.K. Dobbins: 1 carry, 6 yards | 4 targets, 4 receptions, 38 yards

Gus Edwards: 4 carries, 39 yards

 

The first drive saw Mark Ingram II get the start, with J.K. Dobbins coming in shortly after, and then Gus Edwards in after that. The three running backs almost evenly split the opening drive, a drive that was their best of the game. After that, Baltimore fell behind and stopped running the ball as often as their fantasy managers would like.

Dobbins has clearly settled into the 3rd down back role, and while that isn’t the preferred role in this run-heavy offense, he did show some flashes on Monday night. He and Lamar ran an almost unfair option play on the opening drive to convert a first down, a play I would have like to have seen again. Later he spread out wide and caught a slant on third down. Towards the end of the game, Dobbins lined out wide again and made the Ravens’ longest catch of the day on a scramble drill with Jackson. Dobbins led the team in receiving yards, though that was with just 38 yards, and caught all of his targets. Still, Dobbins only saw one carry and finds himself in a three-way time-share. This is a very frustrating situation, especially when the Ravens offense isn’t firing on all cylinders.

Ingram and Edwards both rotated on the early-down role, and honestly, Edwards looked better than Ingram. Ingram didn’t necessarily look washed up, but he didn’t provide that spark that he did last year, and with no passing game work, he is becoming an afterthought in fantasy football lineups. Edwards was at least the more bruising runner and broke through two tackles with good burst on a nice run late in the game.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Marquise Brown: 6 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards

Devin Duvernay: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 7 yards | 93-yard kick return TD

Miles Boykin: 2 targets, 1 reception, 8 yards

Willie Snead IV: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 4 yards

Mark Andrews: 8 targets, 3 receptions, 22 yards

Nick Boyle: 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards, 1 TD

 

Marquise Brown had a very disappointing game, as he let a catchable pass go through his hands on the opening drive on what would have been a 15 yard gain. Later he saw a slant route on 3rd down bounce off his hands as he felt the hit coming from the defense. Brown had a short third-down catch, his first of the game, in the third quarter. He did have several plays where he beat his defender but Jackson was inaccurate. There was a particularly egregious one late where he smoked his defender and Lamar underthrew him, nearly for an interception. It may be time to adjust our rankings of Brown — he seems like he will be able to hit some big plays on busted coverages against bad secondaries, but this passing game is far from a well-oiled machine right now.

Devin Deuvernay was somewhat involved early, as he took a jet sweep with Edwards blocking out front in the red zone. And they tried to get him a screen on 1st and 20 but the defense had it sniffed out. Duvernay ultimately made his mark with a kick return touchdown, the first of the year in the NFL. It was one of the few bright spots for the Ravens on the night.

 

 

There was little to see with the rest of the receiving corps. Willie Snead IV received a short of the 1st down catch on 3rd and 3 on the opening drive and saw one short look the rest of the way

Mark Andrews was frustrating for fantasy managers throughout. He saw a play-action shot down the middle from Jackson that was on money but into heavy coverage, and it just glanced off his fingertips. He had a drop while running out the clock in the first half. And he had the aforementioned dropped touchdown that would have salvaged his day. Better games await, but this was certainly a disappointing performance in a shootout game script for the Ravens offense.

 

 

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire)

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