A dozen (or so) tasks the Chiefs must accomplish to knock off the Ravens

The Chiefs are playing in their sixth consecutive AFC Championship Game. If they're going to go back to the Super Bowl, here's what they need to do.

Jan 21, 2024; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15)
Jan 21, 2024; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
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4. Run the ball, especially out of spread formation

On the flip side, the Chiefs need to continue riding Isiah Pacheco and now Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Pacheco racked up 97 rushing yards on 15 carries, while CEH had 31 yards on just two carries.

Given that this Ravens defense is as complete as any in football, the Chiefs need to find and exploit any advantage they possibly can. The main two areas where the Baltimore D isn't elite are in run defense and tackling. PFF ($) graded the unit as the 19th tackling team in the NFL and they were 14th in rush yards/game and 25th in yards/carry in the regular season. This run defense can be beaten, though defensive linemen like Michael Pierce, Justin Madubuike, Travis Jones, and Jadeveon Clowney as well as linebackers Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen will be worthy adversaries.

Joe Thuney's injury and potential absence will be key in this game. Although backup Nick Allegretti isn't that much worse of a run-blocker, any disadvantage will be an issue for Kansas City in this game.

In addition, they need to run more out of spread formation. Andy Reid needs to spread the Baltimore defense out. This will force the Ravens to use lighter personnel, which can be an issue for them as they're more built to stop heavy personnel teams. Their secondary depth is not as strong as their depth in the front seven. Utilizing spread will make the Ravens take a linebacker off the field in favor of a defensive back and replace a run-stuffing defensive lineman with one more designed to rush the passer.

Spreading out the defense also makes it more difficult for them to disguise blitzes and coverages, which is a Mike Macdonald specialty. If the Chiefs use more jumbo or heavy formations, that will play right into Baltimore's hands.

The Chiefs don't need to come out and rush for well over 100 yards in this matchup, but creating more 2nd and shorts/mediums will keep the Ravens pass rush on their toes and allow Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes to retain some control in this game. Lining up in spread formation will also make it more difficult to fool Patrick Mahomes at the LOS and will make it easier to make the necessary adjustments before the snap.