NFL Season Opener Is A Ravens-Chiefs AFC Championship Rematch That’s The Ultimate Losing Scenario For Baltimore

Mahomes Lamar Jackson
@NFL

Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens and reigning MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson! You know that Kansas City Chiefs team y’all only scored 10 points against and lost to at home in the AFC Championship Game? Guess what?

To begin the 2024 season, you will travel to Arrowhead Stadium to face them again!

Talk about a sucker punch for Baltimore. Damn. Not that the Ravens are a bad team, or that I’d expect them to fold like a cheap suit in Kansas City. It’s just that this whole situation reeks of bad vibes.

Over the past 35 years or so, teams who start a season 0-2, no matter how talented they are, have a littler better than a one in 10 chance of making the playoffs. The Ravens and Chiefs are two teams who could take an “L” out of the gates and buck that trend even if they lose in Week 2. Nevertheless, it’s a lot to ask of Baltimore to be up to that task considering the suffocating pressure Lamar and Co. will be under for all of 2024.

With two league MVPs and a spotty playoff resume to date, Lamar really has to take the next step. Going to KC hardly seems like the optimal place for him to begin that long journey toward what’s hopefully his first Lombardi Trophy.

Another major problem is, his team just lost its dynamic defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, the new Seahawks head coach. Baltimore’s pass-rushers are frankly nothing to write home about either. The defense will likely be counting on a rookie starter in cornerback Nate Wiggins to guard against a new-look, sophisticated Chiefs passing attack that now features the fastest man in Combine history in wideout Xavier Worthy.

Former Ravens first-round receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is also on KC’s side now, which should only make Patrick Mahomes‘ job easier, and give Travis Kelce more room to operate underneath. Kelce had eleven catches for 106 yards and a TD in the last matchup without two absolute burners in Brown and Worthy to complement him. Regardless of how Rashee Rice’s legal saga plays out, the Chiefs have plenty of other weapons at Mahomes’ disposal.

Baltimore’s addition of workhorse tailback Derrick Henry should take some of the heat off Lamar as a runner, but will the Ravens be able to establish the run in what could very well be a shootout against Mahomes and the Chiefs? I’m not so sure. Certainly didn’t happen in the AFC Championship Game — and that was a low-scoring, 17-10 slugfest.

Here’s the kicker, too: Even if the Ravens win this season opener, it won’t be that big of a deal. Kansas City has won three of the last five Super Bowls. They lost Week 1 last year to the Lions and it didn’t matter. All the pressure is on Baltimore.

While there is a certain vengeance X-factor that could work to their advantage, whenever Lamar has pressed in the past during the postseason, he seems to get tight and make uncharacteristic errors. He almost made my eyeballs pop out of my skull with the interception he threw in the AFC title game.

In the event of a Ravens victory, the main topic of debate won’t be, “What’s wrong with the Chiefs?” It’ll be, “Is this finally Baltimore’s year?” If they lose, it’ll feel like the sky is falling, and suddenly, no matter who they play in Week 2, that game becomes a massive pressure cooker.

A lot of Ravens fans might be amped up at the thought of getting another crack at the Chiefs so soon.

…I’d say be careful what you wish for. Even though it comes at Baltimore’s expense, good for the NFL for making this showdown a reality. Hell of a way to kick off the 2024 season.

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