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Game-changers RG3, Reed meet in Ravens-Redskins

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Game-changers RG3, Reed meet in Ravens-Redskins

WASHINGTON (AP) Time to break out more superlatives. Robert Griffin III is about to play another game.

``He's unbelievable. He's back there, he makes more plays than anyone you've been around. He changes the game.''

Ah, but there's a catch. While it certainly sounds like a defensive player getting ready to face RG3, it's actually Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan talking about Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed.

``There's a reason people say he's the best of all time,'' added Shanahan, adding a bit of praise that's not even in Griffin's ballpark.

No active player has more interceptions than Reed. No regular starting quarterback this season has a lower interception rate than Griffin. The veteran ball hawk and do-everything rookie meet for the first time when the Ravens (9-3) visit the Redskins (6-6) on Sunday.

``You've just got to be aware of where he's at,'' said Griffin, who has thrown just four picks this season. ``Just like he's got to be aware of where I am.''

Every Redskins game this season has revolved around the unique challenge of defending a quarterback who can run the option with world class speed, yet whose decision-making when dropping back to pass is the envy of quarterbacks much older.

This week is no different.

``He's making great decisions,'' Reed said. ``He still has a lot to learn, obviously. The offensive scheme that they're running helps him out a lot.''

Griffin is also proving to be a winner and a national phenomenon, leading the Redskins on a three-game streak that has them within a game of first place in the NFC East. His jersey and cleats were sent to the Hall of Fame this week after he topped Cam Newton's NFL single-season record for rushing yards by a rookie quarterback.

``We've got to contain him,'' Reed said. ``We've got to get him on the ground and not allow him to run, but that's like telling Superman not to fly.''

Baltimore's reputation for defense has taken a bit of a hit this season as opponents pile up chunks of yards, although the statistics can be misleading. The Ravens are ranked 25th in the conventional measuring stick of yards allowed, but they are eighth in points allowed - and it's points that determine wins and losses.

Baltimore is in good shape to clinch a playoff berth for the fifth consecutive season and could sew up the AFC North this weekend, pending the results from other games. The Ravens lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, but they are currently the NFL's best bounce-back team, winning 15 in a row following a defeat since their last two-game losing streak in 2009.

``There's always a little bit of extra urgency after a loss, for whatever reason,'' Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco said. ``I don't know if it's a bad thing or a good thing. But we are always calm, cool and collected and confident around here.''

While the Ravens have a bit of a cushion in their division, the Redskins have been playing in must-win mode since dropping to 3-6 last month. After a trio of intense games against division rivals, Washington can now find motivation in winning the Beltway Bowl against its neighbor to the north.

``This is for all the bragging rights right here,'' Redskins tight end Niles Paul said, ``because we see these guys, we're friends with these guys.''

That's not a universal feeling in the locker room, however. After all, it's hard to build a rivalry between teams that play only once every four years.

``We've got enough rivalries as it is,'' Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson said. ``We've got a whole division of rivalries, so I don't think we can accept any more applications.''

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A view from the other side: A Q&A with a Kansas City Chiefs columnist

A view from the other side: A Q&A with a Kansas City Chiefs columnist

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ahead of the Ravens and Chiefs game this Sunday, NBC Sports Washington reached out to Sam Mellinger, a columnist for The Kansas City Star. 

Here’s what Mellinger and the Chiefs are saying about this week’s game between two 2-0 opponents in a rematch of last year’s thrilling 27-24 overtime finish. 

Note: Mellinger’s answers were over email.

Q: The Ravens have mentioned that last year's wild overtime finish has been somewhat of a learning experience for them. Have the Chiefs said the same? Or is there no carryover from year-to-year?

A: That game has been talked about a lot here. It's still Patrick Mahomes' only game under 26 points in regulation. There are a dozen different moments that had to go the Chiefs' way to win that one, even beyond the 4th and 9 that everyone talks about. The carryover is probably less of a thing for the defense than offense, just because that side of the ball has been almost completely overhauled.

Q: Lamar Jackson has been one of the league's most impressive quarterbacks so far this season — what have the Chiefs and their coaches said about his progression from year 1 to year 2? 

A: The Chiefs are always complimentary of their opponents. They could play the Dolphins this year and Andy Reid would talk about being excited for the challenge of playing a good football team with good players and good coaches. That's just how they go. But we all have b.s. detecters, right? And the talk is more sincere this week. Jackson and the Ravens do a lot of things well that match up against what the Chiefs don't do well. Jackson is a problem for everyone, but particularly for the Chiefs. Their improved speed at linebacker and rookie safety Juan Thornhill will be especially tested this weekend.

Q: There's been a lot made of Mahomes' progression in his second year, has that been discussed by the Chiefs in what to expect from Jackson this week?

A: The connection with Mahomes hasn't come up specifically, unless I've missed something, but yeah they've talked about Jackson looking more comfortable and advanced this year than last, which I believe was just his fourth start.

Q: In terms of defending the run and pass from Jackson, what have the Chiefs stressed as difficulties in defending both? What are the keys to that? 

A: They don't reveal a lot beyond cliches, but basically the Chiefs are going to need to set the edge, stay disciplined, and perhaps even put one of their faster linebackers or even a safety as a spy against Jackson. The Chiefs have been pretty terrible defending the run for some time now. The Ravens could have a lot of success there.

Q: The Ravens have one of the better secondaries in the NFL, how do you see the matchup between all of the Chiefs weapons and the Ravens secondary playing out?

A: The Chiefs have enough weapons and the right quarterback and a scheme that once allowed Alex Smith to lead the league in passer rating, so the stock answer is that this offense is too much of a problem for any secondary. But the answer this week is a little different, I think, because the Chiefs won't have Tyreek Hill and the Ravens signed Earl Thomas. That matters. A lot. Thomas is a Hall of Famer still relatively close to his peak, and his ability as a sort of center fielder — both his range and mind — could cut the top off some of what the Chiefs want to do. The combination of Mahomes' arm strength and Hill's speed often stretches defenses past the point of recognition, but that part of the game will be in closer balance now.

Q: What's a particular matchup (position or individual) that you're interested in seeing on Sunday?

A: I think we all tend to think of these things through the lens of the team we follow the closest, but the two that come first to mind are Cam Irving and Juan Thornhill. Irving will start at left tackle for the injured Eric Fisher. Irving is a representative lineman — they're not pushing a practice squad guy out there — but he got trucked in the run game last week against the Raiders. The Ravens are tough and physical and disguise their blitzes really well, so that could be a particular problem for a Chiefs team without their starting left tackle and (likely) at least one of their two top running backs.

Thornhill is sort of the Chiefs' version of what we were just talking about with Earl Thomas. Thornhill is obviously not in Thomas' class, I'm not saying that, but he's a similar profile: center fielder type of a safety with length and athleticism. Hollywood Brown with more comfort from Jackson in the pass game will stretch the field more than the last time these teams played. The Chiefs' corners are inconsistent, and can be had. Thornhill will be relied upon.

Q: If you had to put a prediction on the game, what would that be?

A: I did picks before the season, and this is one of three games I had the Chiefs losing. I'll stick with that. The Ravens look like the best team the Chiefs will play this season other than the Patriots, and like I mentioned before, a lot of the things they do well are particular problems for the Chiefs. I know the line is close to a touchdown, and I guess I can understand why, but I'm expecting this to be a really hard game for the Chiefs. The Ravens beat Mahomes up last year more than anyone else has been able to, and now the Chiefs are down a lineman and short on running backs for pass protection. No outcome would be surprising other than a blowout either way, but I think the Ravens can get this one.

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Ravens at Chiefs Week 3: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Ravens at Chiefs Week 3: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Two weeks and two wins have the Baltimore Ravens off to a fast start in 2019. After a 59-10 win in Miami, the Ravens took care of business at home defeating the Arizona Cardinals, 23-17.

While Lamar Jackson may have not replicated the numbers that earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week following the opener, his Week 2 performance was still impressive. The second-year quarterback threw for 272 yards (including a beautiful deep ball to Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown to seal the game) and two touchdowns while rushing for 120 yards.

Jackson now has seven passing touchdowns in two games, more than he compiled in all of his starts last season.

Defensively, Baltimore was once again solid even while missing Jimmy Smith in the secondary. Despite allowing Kyler Murray to throw for over 300 yards in the Air-Raid offense, Baltimore only surrendered one touchdown late in the game.

Through the first two games of 2019, things have gone about as good as they can for the Ravens. Even with matchups against teams that don't look like contenders, wins are wins in the NFL. But now, the Ravens will face their biggest test yet when they head to Kansas City to face the Chiefs.

Led by reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes, the AFC West leaders are also a perfect 2-0 on the season. Even with the absence of receiver Tyreek Hill for a majority of the two games, Mahomes is already making a case for a two-peat as MVP. Through 120 minutes of action, he's thrown for 871 yards and seven touchdowns, completing 71.4 percent of his passes. 

Mahomes and company will offer plenty of challenges for the Baltimore defense. Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and a plethora of other weapons allow Mahomes to disperse his passes all over the field. Come Sunday, the secondary will have its hands full.

The Week 3 matchup is also a rematch of one of the better games of 2018. Mahomes and the Chiefs outlasted Jackson and the Ravens 27-24 in overtime, something the team still hasn't forgotten about

Sunday promises to be a good one, here's everything you need to know about the game:

RAVENS AT CHIEFS WEEK 3:

Who: Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs 

What: Week 3 regular season

When: Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MD

TV Channel: CBS 

Live Stream: CBS Sports, FuboTV

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090, 98Rock and 101.5 FM

Weather: Partly cloudy, high of 72 degrees, chance of rain 50 percent

RAVENS 2019 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1: Sun., 9/8 at Dolphins, 1:00 p.m. (W, 59-10)

Week 2: Sun., 9/15 vs. Cardinals, 1:00 p.m. (W, 23-17)

Week 3: Sun., 9/22 at Chiefs. 1:00 p.m.

Week 4: Sun., 9/29 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 5: Sun., 10/6 at Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 6: Sun., 10/13 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 7: Sun., 10/20 at Seahawks, 4:25 p.m.

Week 8: BYE week

Week 9: Sun., 11/3 vs. Patriots, 8:20 p.m.

Week 10:  Sun., 11/10 at Bengals, 1:00 p.m.

Week 11: Sun., 11/17 vs. Texans, 1:00 p.m.

Week 12: Mon., 11/25 at Rams, 8:15 p.m.

Week 13: Sun., 12/1 vs. 49ers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 14: Sun., 12/8 at Bills, 1:00 p.m.

Week 15: Thu., 12/12 vs. Jets, 8:20 p.m.

Week 16: Sun., 12/22 at Browns, 1:00 p.m.

Week 17: Sun., 12/29 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m.

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