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Ravens-Chiefs Week 3: Three Key Matchups

September 20, 2019
Who: Baltimore Ravens (2-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
Where: Arrowhead Stadium
When: Sunday, Sept. 22, 1 p.m. EDT

Ravens players and coaches have downplayed this significance of this game, but there's no question that this matchup is generating national buzz, helped in part by the torrid start this season for Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, and in part by the Chiefs' riveting 27-24 overtime win when the teams met last year.

As the Ravens look to avenge that loss, and move to 3-0 for the third time in the John Harbaugh era, here are three matchups to watch: 

Ravens WR Marquise Brown vs Chiefs CB Bashaud Breeland or Kendall Fuller

If the Ravens have shown anything in the first two weeks, it's that their No . 1 draft pick will be an integral part of their offense in all phases. In the win against Arizona Sept. 15, Brown had a team-high 13 targets, with eight catches for 86 yards. And Brown helped set up the Ravens' first touchdown, as a fake to Brown sucked in the secondary and opened the sideline for tight end Mark Andrews, who waltzed in with a 27-yard touchdown catch.

The Chiefs have allowed 262.5 passing yards a game and opponents have completed 70.4 percent of their passes against them. Of course, they are completing passes at a roughly equal clip and outscoring teams, so there is something of a track-meet mentality going on here. 

Breeland, a six-year veteran signed to a one-year deal this offseason, had seven tackles and an interception in the Chiefs' 28-10 win against the Oakland Raiders Sept. 15. Fuller comes from the Baltimore family that has bred NFL players, with his brothers Vincent, Corey and Kyle also making it to the NFL. He came to the Chiefs last year as part of the trade that sent quarterback Alex Smith to Washington. 

Ravens OLB Matthew Judon vs. Chiefs LT Cam Erving

Judon has had a sack in each of the first two games this year and saw plenty of Patrick Mahomes in the last meeting between the teams, with a sack and five of the Ravens 15 hits on the Chiefs quarterback. For Judon, setting and holding the edge and trying to contain Mahomes will also be critical. 

Erving moves into the starting left tackle spot for the Chiefs with Pro Bowl left tackle Eric Fisher sidelined by groin surgery. Erving (6-foot-5, 313 pounds) was a first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2015 and then was traded to the Chiefs in 2017. He was a starter at left guard last season. 

Ravens S Tony Jefferson vs. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce

The Ravens will look at multiple possibilities to defend the Chiefs' All-Pro tight end, but much of the time that unenviable task could fall to Jefferson. With fellow safety Earl Thomas patrolling deep, it will be up to Jefferson to try to contain Kelce and keep the Chiefs from finding soft spots in the middle of the field. Through two games this season, Jefferson has seven tackles and one pass defensed. Jefferson missed the game against the Chiefs last season with an ankle injury.

Kelce is a 6-foot-5, 260-pound wide receiver in a tight end's body who is a matchup problem for pretty much every team he faces. Kelce finished last season with 103 catches for 1,336 yards, the second-most ever by a tight end. (San Francisco's Greg Kittle totaled 1,377 last year.) In the meeting against the Ravens last year, Kelce caught seven passes for 77 yards and one touchdown.

PREDICTION

The Ravens are minus two of their top defensive backs against the most potent passing attack in the league, with Mahomes and Co. averaging 405.5 yards through the air. That is a tough task for any defense, especially on the road. 

The Chiefs have scored at least 26 points in a record 23 straight regular-season games, although they needed overtime to get there against the Ravens last season. The high-octane Chiefs are going to score; the question is, can Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense match them score for score? Not quite. Chiefs 33, Ravens 23.

Follow Bo on Twitter @bsmolka

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox