Depending on who’s asked, Sunday’s game is either a statement waiting to be made, or just another game to play.
In perhaps the weekend’s most anticipated game, the Ravens will head to Arrowhead Stadium to face the unbeaten Chiefs on Sunday at 1 p.m. It’s an opportunity for the Ravens to stake their claim as one of the NFL’s best, against the league’s most explosive offense.
“Every game for us is a statement game,” Ronnie Stanley said. “We’ve been downplayed since the beginning of the season. Every game (is), and this just happens to be the next one.”
But while it’s being billed as a game between two of the NFL’s hottest offenses led by two bright stars at quarterback, it’s still just the third game of the season.
“Not really,” Marshal Yanda said on if this game is a measuring stick. “We focus on the gameplan. We focus on practice and sharpening things up, just getting better every single day. Obviously, we know that they’re a good football team, and we’re going to respect them. But we’re just more worried about what we can control in this building and just getting better every day.”
There’s two mindsets, but it’s impossible to look past what Sunday’s matchup could mean.
Firstly, it would be at least a modicum of revenge for last year’s 27-24 overtime loss, a loss which Ravens players and coaches have said still sticks with them.
But perhaps more importantly, it would give the Ravens a leg up early in the season on one of the favorites in the AFC.
“We’re trying to make our way,” coach John Harbaugh said. “There will be a lot at stake at the end of the year when you count them up, but right now, both teams are trying to find who they are and are trying to win an early AFC matchup. It’s just kind of an early-season game.”
At 2-0, the opportunity is there on-paper for the Ravens to state their claim atop the conference, especially with the rest of the AFC North’s start to the season.
Cincinnati stumbled out of the gate and is 0-2, as is Pittsburgh, which just lost Ben Roethlisberger for the season to an injury.
The Browns are 1-1 with the Rams coming to town on Sunday, meaning the opportunity is there for the Ravens to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the conference early on.
In order for the Ravens to do so, however, they’ll have to get by Patrick Mahomes and company.
“It’s a big challenge for us in the back end, a big challenge for the defense and for this ball club on the road against a playoff-caliber team,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “They have it all. We’re excited to see what we’re made of, so it’s a big challenge for us, trying to find a way to get to 3-0.”
Still, Sunday’s game is more than just a game on paper. The Ravens can firmly cement themselves as one of the NFL’s best amongst the minds of many in the league. Even if they knew that already themselves.
“My job is to control what I can control, and that’s my offense,” Lamar Jackson said. “I don’t really care about the hype. I don’t even care about the hype they’re giving us now. They were just doubting us the whole offseason. Like I said, we’re just going to go in there and perform.”
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