Ross Jacobs has been an FFM correspondent on NFL games and NFL Draft matters for the past few years. He is going to be writing up some of his notes on various games he’s watching/studying this year. Typically, he will have written/submitted his work before mine, so this is a look at the same game with different eyes...and you can compare and contrast or find some new takeaways.
2020 Week 3 Analysis: Chiefs @ Ravens (By Ross Jacobs)
-As usual most of the media is taking the wrong lessons away from this game. The score says it was a one-sided game, and it was to a degree, and suddenly the mystery is solved: Mahomes is better than Lamar, the Chiefs are better than the Ravens, and that's the end of the conversation. I'm going to talk about why that may not be true.
-Everyone saw the same game I did from an action point of view. The Chiefs scored early and often, and the Ravens were in catch-up mode all night. I have to note though that the Ravens did bring the game back to within a score when Boyle scored to make it 27-20 Chiefs. The game was still up in the air at that point, and so this wasn't quite the complete blowout being portrayed. These teams are still very evenly matched, and I will argue below that the Ravens still might be the superior team.
-The Baltimore offense looked downright pathetic at times, and the Chiefs seemingly couldn't be stopped. But does that mean we should draw the conclusion that matchups between these two teams will always go that way? Absolutely not. If you didn't notice, Kansas City was far more aggressive with the ball early in this game than they were the previous two weeks. That's not by accident. Andy Reid has to know that he needs to get a large early lead on Baltimore because it forces them into pass mode and that is not Lamar or this offense's strength.
-The Ravens want to be the ones controlling the clock, chewing up yards on the ground, and forcing their opponent to keep pace with them. When they get down though they are forced off of that plan and Lamar's weaknesses get exposed. I'm typically not in favor of teams that are down by multiple scores running the ball as they often seem to do, but in Baltimore's case I believe that's absolutely the right course of action. This team certainly can throw the ball, but they need the threat of Lamar taking off to help open up space for them. On the rare occasions they find themselves behind they need to stick to the gameplan and keep running, try to work their way back in the game with defense and physicality.
-This is one reason why I do believe Mahomes is the better long-term QB of the two. Lamar is a talent no doubt, but in a few years when the talent around him fades a bit, he's going to be forced to pass the ball more often and he is limited in that capacity despite what his proponents have been claiming for the past year. Mahomes has no such limit. It also makes Mahomes the more flexible of the two as far as game situation goes. Mahomes can always throw the Chiefs back from a deficit. Lamar has more trouble doing that, and running will always be less effective than throwing.
-Now all of that sounds like I'm down on the Ravens and up on the Chiefs like everyone else, but I'm not so sure. I do believe the Ravens have the more sound team this year just like they did last year. This is the first game in quite a while that the Chiefs weren't down early to a decent team. I think they know they can't afford to against the Ravens in particular and so they gambled early and often to try and grab that lead. Those gambles aren't always going to pay off though, and if the Ravens can hold onto a lead or even just keep the score close in their next matchup, you have to think the Ravens are favored due to their superior defense.
-It seems like Mahomes re-established himself in the mix for QB1 this year, but I'd be cautious thinking that he's suddenly going to start partying like it's 2018. He hasn't been throwing quite as much so far, and might have only popped off here because the Chiefs came out attacking so hard. I'm not convinced that's going to be the gameplan every week because they know they don't need it against most teams. All I'm saying is don't count on getting 25 ppg out of Mahomes every week just yet. He may settle down around 20 ppg which is good but not top-tier.
-Three games and three games with 5 catches and a touchdown for Tyreek Hill. The TD's are propping up his fantasy numbers at the moment. The low catch numbers aren't super abnormal for Hill, but you'd really like to see a bit more usage. Still, with all the WR's disappearing in fantasy-land other than Hopkins you're probably pretty happy if you have Hill at the moment. I think Tyreek is going to be ok, and I might even suggest trading for him if his owner thinks the TD's are fluky.
-Lamar would be a good target too if you can get him from an owner that's worried about his passing. That's probably not the case off of one bad game, but you never know. They have some really bad defenses coming up, and I can guarantee he won't be laying eggs in those games.