What can Baltimore do to slow down Kansas City? Deception.
The Ravens have to show the Chiefs as many different looks on defense as they can.
"If they know what you’re in, they will slaughter you," Ravens defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale said. "I mean, I wish I could come up with a better analogy of it, but they will slaughter you."
Mahomes, whose 41 touchdown passes are tied for the second-most through 12 games in NFL history, headlines the major storyline for this game. It's the Ravens and the NFL's top-ranked defense against the Chiefs and the league's highest-scoring offense.
Baltimore has allowed an NFL-low 17.8 points per game, and Kansas City has averaged a league-leading 37 points per game. History says the Chiefs have the advantage Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
This will be the sixth meeting between the top-scoring offense and the top-scoring defense in Week 10 or later in the past 20 seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. In the previous five of these matchups, the top-scoring offense has prevailed. The only time the stingiest defense won was in 2012, when the San Francisco 49ers topped the New England Patriots.
"We know we have to go out and play great to have a chance to win this game, let alone stop them," said safety Eric Weddle, who was part of a defense that limited the Atlanta Falcons to 131 yards of total offense last Sunday. "In reality, holding this team to what we did last [week] is probably not going to happen. But we can make things tough on them. We can create turnovers. We can hold them in the red zone. So, those things are areas that we can do, and if we do that, we’ll be successful."
Here is Martindale's blunt assessments of the Chiefs' top offensive talents:
On Hill: "[He] is the fastest human being I’ve ever seen wear a helmet."
On Kelce: "I don’t think that you stop him. I think you just try to limit the big plays that he makes."
On Mahomes: "He is [Joe] Montana. I’m talking about the San Francisco [49ers] Montana, not the Kansas City Montana."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was on the staff of Kansas City coach Andy Reid for nine years when they were both in Philadelphia. What he remembers the most about Reid is how he always finds ways to create big plays.
The Chiefs lead the NFL with 78 plays of 20 or more yards, which are eight more than any other team. The Ravens have allowed 37 plays of 20 or more yards, the fourth fewest in the league.
"We cover pretty well, and we’ve been in the right spots," Harbaugh said. "We haven’t blown too many coverages; we haven’t messed up too many gap controls. We also play very hard -- we run to the ball. All those things will be a challenge this week against the Chiefs with their offense."
This marks the first time in five years that the top-scoring offense and the top-scoring defense have met in Week 10 or later. It occurred in 2013 when the Chiefs had the NFL's best defense and the Broncos had the highest-scoring offense.
Is this a storyline that the Ravens care about?
"I don’t ever want to say that ‘I don’t care,’ because I think that sounds crappy when you say that as a coach," Martindale said. "Of course, we want to do things right, and we want to be the best. We want to have goals. One of our goals is to be the best defense in the National Football League. Do we make a big thing about, ‘This is the No. 1 [offense]?’ No, we just keep it simple. Keep it simple and say, ‘Here’s our challenge, and here’s what we have to do with this challenge ahead.’"