OWINGS MILLS, MD. -- Fresh off a dominant defensive performance in beating the Atlanta Falcons Dec. 2, members of the Ravens' top-rated defense said they can ill afford to bask in that effort as they brace for their biggest test of the season when they visit the Kansas City Chiefs Dec. 9.
The Chiefs (10-2) average a league-best 37 points a game and rank third in total offense and passing offense. Even without leading rusher Kareem Hunt -- released last weekend in the wake of a hotel video showing him shoving and kicking a woman -- the Chiefs scored 40 during a 40-33 win against the Oakland Raiders Dec. 2. They have been held under 30 points just twice.
Second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes, 23, has thrown a league-best 41 touchdowns this season, with just 10 interceptions, and his quarterback rating of 118.1 ranks second behind Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.
Cornerback Jimmy Smith said Mahomes is "like a young Brett Favre, only more athletic."
"He's wise beyond his years," safety Eric Weddle said. "The way he controls the line of scrimmage, the way he checks, the audibles, the snap counts, the way he moves the safeties with his looks, his dropbacks. Obviously impressed."
Tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill already have more than 1,000 receiving yards with four games to go. Harbaugh called Kelce "a must-stop guy. No question about it, you have to look at him as a top receiver."
The Ravens (9-7) are coming off a
26-16 win at Atlanta
in which they shut down quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons' passing game, holding Atlanta to 131 yards of offense -- its lowest total since 1999. All-Pro receiver Julio Jones was limited to two catches for 18 yards by a suffocating secondary led by Smith, Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr.
"Last week is last week," Smith said, noting that Ryan and Mahomes have different styles.
"Two different teams, two different quarterbacks," Smith added. "The weapons are different. Even though Atlanta has tremendous weapons, Kansas City has different weapons and they utilize them differently."
Weddle and Smith said the team is not focused on any narrative of the top offense against the top defense, and they are instead focused on trying to extend their winning streak to four games and further solidify their playoff position.
"We're a confident group," Weddle said. "We feel like we can match up with anyone. … Obviously, this offense is the best in the league. It's going to be a challenge for us, but we're up for it."
FLACCO PRACTICES, HUMPHREY DOES NOT: Quarterback Joe Flacco was on the practice field again Dec. 5 as he continues to recover from a hip injury sustained a month ago against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Harbaugh said Flacco would be "ramped up" from his workload this week, but he also suggested he would be limited in practice once again.
Flacco returned to the practice field for the first time in three weeks Nov. 28 but missed his third straight game. Rookie Lamar Jackson has led the Ravens to a 3-0 record in Flacco's absence and is expected to start again in Kansas City.
Most notable among the Ravens not at practice Dec. 5 was cornerback Marlon Humphrey. It's unclear whether he is dealing with an injury, but he played all but five defensive snaps against the Falcons. Any injury to Humphrey would be significant facing the Chiefs' high-octane passing attack.
Others who missed practice included safety Tony Jefferson (ankle), who missed the Falcons game, and offensive lineman Alex Lewis (neck/shoulder), who left that game early. Others not at the open portion of practice included wide receiver Michael Crabtree, guard Marshal Yanda, cornerback Tavon Young (groin), safety Eric Weddle and defensive back Anthony Levine. Several of those players were likely getting a veteran's day off.