What: Chiefs (8-5) at Ravens (4-9)
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
My five storylines to watch:
1. Who will play quarterback for the Ravens?
I’ve already said that I would go with Jimmy Clausen. But coach John Harbaugh left the door open for starting Matt Schaub after Friday’s practice. Planning for next season has already begun for the Ravens. Starting Clausen would fit into that way of thinking. I wouldn’t be surprised to see newly-signed Ryan Mallett see some action before the season ends. But for this game, I’d give the ball to Clausen. We’ll see if Harbaugh agrees.
2. Can the red-hot Chiefs (8-5) avoid a costly defeat?
Kansas City is riding a seven-game winning streak and is currently the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoff picture. The Chiefs know they can’t afford to stumble against the Ravens. The Seahawks didn’t mess around last weekend, blowing out Baltimore, 35-6. But the Chiefs can’t match Seattle’s explosiveness. If this game stays close into the fourth quarter, all the pressure will be on the Chiefs.
3. Will the Ravens pull any tricks out of their bag?
The Ravens should gamble Sunday. They are out of the playoff hunt. They are shorthanded offensively. Onside kicks, fake punts, reverses, and halfback passes should all be in play.
4. Can the Ravens’ secondary avoid another meltdown?
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw five touchdown passes against the Ravens, and defensive coordinator Dean Pees took some of the blame for his strategy.
“I think I put some guys in some tough situations worrying about Wilson scrambling, the run game, I guessed on a couple of things,” Pees said. “I guessed wrong, and we got hit.”
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith does not throw downfield nearly as much, but the Ravens need to reduce their coverage mistakes, or they will have a tough time winning.
5. Can the Ravens’ offensive line deal with the Chiefs’ pass rush?
Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston (knee) won’t play Sunday, but the Chiefs are still fourth in the NFL in sacks. Playing his second game at left tackle, Kelechi Osemele and his fellow offensive lineman will face a challenge keeping the Chiefs from harassing whoever plays QB for the Ravens.
PREDICTION: It won’t be as bad as last week for the Ravens, but I don’t see them winning.
CHIEFS 24, RAVENS 14