The NFL’s 16 games in Week 1 averaged 17.4 million viewers on television and digital properties. That is a 7 percent increase over last season (16.3 million average) and nearly equal to 2019, which averaged 17.6 million and remains the highest since 2017.
NFL primetime ratings should continue to soar on “Sunday Night Football” this week as the Kansas City Chiefs invade “Charm City” to face the Baltimore Ravens.
TONIGHT on Sunday Night Football…
— NFL Badgers (@NFLBadgers) September 19, 2021
LJ8 vs Pat “Magic Man” Mahomes
It’s the kind of matchup that the NFL lives for. Two of the marquee quarterbacks in the league, with the Chiefs trotting out Patrick Mahomes and the Ravens Lamar Jackson.
Two former MVPs who are amongst the favorites to take the award home again this season.
Patrick Mahomes vs Lamar Jackson in H2H games!
Mahomes – 1136
Jackson – 511
Mahomes – 9
Jackson – 3
Mahomes – 70%
Jackson – 53%
Mahomes – 32
Jackson – 196
Mahomes – 4
Jackson – 9
Chiefs are 3-0! pic.twitter.com/WRVBhvoQCy
— Chiefs Focus: Behind the Numbers 📊 (@CFStatistics) September 16, 2021
The Jackson versus Mahomes matchup will go a long way in deciding this gridiron battle, but this doesn’t sit as a one-on-one contest.
Beat Up Backfield
The Ravens have been decimated by injuries, losing their top three tailbacks (JK Dobbins, Justice Hill and Gus Edwards) in successive weeks.
The team then brought in NFL veterans Latavius Murray, Le’Veon Bell and DeVonta Freeman. Bell, a former foe from the Steelers, seems to be the odd man out as Murray and Freeman were added to the 53-man roster, while Bell — once considered the league’s premier dual-threat back — is still on the practice squad. How the mighty have fallen.
They also lost ball-hawking corner Marcus Peters, and the oft-injured corner Jimmy Smith.
The Ravens will need the running game to take some of the pressure off Jackson.
In a Week 1 overtime loss to the Raiders on MNF, Jackson carried the offense for the majority of the game, until hero ball backfired with two crucial fumbles.
When it comes to the maestro Patrick Mahomes, each week he does something that makes jaws drop, e.g., a no-look pass, a sidearm strike, or a pass on the run that makes you go WOW!
In times when the Chiefs defense underperforms, Mahomes still saves the day. Just call him the “Cleanup Man.”
He did it last week in a comeback win over the Browns. And this week the Chiefs may not need those heroics with the Ravens ravaged by injuries.
Another big matchup which will play a huge role in determining this one will be how the Ravens intend to defend all-world tight end Travis “No Beard” Kelce.
Travis Kelce is good on MNF even when he’s not playing. pic.twitter.com/19cTbAl66u
— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) September 14, 2021
In Monday night’s loss to Las Vegas, their tight end Darren Waller took advantage of Baltimore’s secondary and linebackers at will.
He had 10 grabs for 105 yards and a touchdown. The crazy part is Raiders QB Derek Carr missed Waller a few times or the damage could’ve been much worse.
Don’t expect Mahomes to miss those type of throws to Kelce. Kelce set an NFL single-season record for tight ends with (1,416) yards last season.
He might even top that this year in a 17-game season. He also holds the record for most 1,000 yard seasons for a tight end (five), and most 100-reception seasons by a tight end (twice).
Cheifs O-Line vs Raiders D-Line
The Chiefs offensive line versus the Ravens defensive line is always a key matchup. Last season the Ravens blitzed 44.1 percent of the time, and yes it worked often because of a lockdown secondary and a deep array of pass rushers.
The Ravens had the fourth-highest pressure rate of (26.8 percent) and the seventh-lowest quarterback rating allowed (87.2) last season. That’s all fine and dandy, but against the Chiefs and Mahomes that hasn’t worked. It didn’t work against Derek Carr last week either.
Lamar Jackson ended up getting pressured on 54.5% of his drop-backs, per @NextGenStats. Derek Carr was pressured on just 20.3% of his.
The Ravens were supposed to have the better offensive line. And a capable pass rush. It'll take some time.
— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) September 14, 2021
The Chiefs upgraded their offensive line following their abysmal Super Bowl showing against the Bucs, adding Orlando Brown Jr., via trade from the Ravens, and other ballers like Joe Thuney and Trey Smith.
Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale loves to bring pressure and he’s great at it, but in Week 1 the Ravens had 17 blitzes that ended up yielding bad results for the “Charm City” guys.
That’s why blitzing Patrick Mahomes isn’t the smartest strategy as he led the league in yards per attempt (9.3), completion rate (70.4 percent) and TD-INT ratio (16-1) when blitzed in 2020.
Mahomes has dominated this matchup with Jackson on the scoreboard, going 3-0.
Point blank, the Ravens will need a different strategy to beat the Chiefs.