Schwartz’s Trench Report: What I’m Betting in Ravens-Chiefs
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Marshal Yanda, Reggie Ragland
- Former NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz offers his best Week 14 NFL bet based on the battles up front.
- He's picking a side in the Kansas City Chiefs' home matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.
Y’all will have to forgive me for last week’s pick. I took the Indianapolis Colts over the Jacksonville Jaguars. And the Colts scored a grand total of zero points.
That was pathetic. I take that personally, and I’m here to make it up with an excellent pick for this weekend’s Ravens-Chiefs matchup. Let’s get to it.
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Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs
- Spread: Chiefs -6.5
- Over/Under: 53
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
I spent the afternoon watching the Ravens offense over the past three weeks with Lamar Jackson at the helm. Their stats are impressive with more than 200 yards in three straight weeks on the ground running a hybrid pistol offense.
It’s fairly similar to something you’d see on college football Saturdays.
This offense has worked in part because no team in the NFL is running it, and because the Ravens have played poor rush defenses. The Bengals (28th), Falcons (29th and Raiders (31st) are among the bottom five rush defenses according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric.
But it’s not a sustainable offense.
Just as we’ve seen with the Wildcat and zone read, there’s eventually enough film to shut it down. When offenses shut down the run game, the quarterback must be ready to guide the offense, and Jackson isn’t close to being ready to do that. (It’s worth noting that Joe Flacco (hip) did practice in a limited fashion on Wednesday, but Jackson is expected to start on Sunday.)
So why is the offense working? Because of the Ravens’ opponents and their own defense, which is playing lights out against poor offenses.
Baltimore heads to Kansas City this weekend, and while we know the Chiefs offense is historically good, their run defense is brutal.
That’s why I still like the Ravens to cover this game.
The Chiefs are 32nd in rush defense, allowing 5.07 yards per attempt. The Ravens’ offensive line, as expected when you rush for more than 600 yards over three games, is playing very well. Baltimore’s run unit is paving the way for 4.52 yards per attempt and ranks fifth in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate, which matches up well against the Chiefs, who are middle of the road as a pass rush unit.
Plus when you rush the ball well, it limits the ability of a pass rush unit.
Rushing the ball well will also keep the Chiefs offense off the field. A fresh Ravens defense can match-up well against the Chiefs. The Ravens defense is third in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards allowed and eighth in sack rate while the Chiefs offense is sixth in sack rate but only 19th in adjusted line yards.
We’ve seen in games that the Chiefs don’t cover — or it’s within a point — that the recipe is rushing the football. The Raiders and Broncos can attest to that. So I’ll take the Ravens.
THE PICK: Ravens +6.5
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.