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
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
5 of 11
Next

5. Don't allow Lamar Jackson to scramble, but if he does, make him move horizontally

It's not a secret that Lamar Jackson is one of the best running quarterbacks in today's NFL. His mix of speed and elusiveness is a rare skill set in a passer.

One thing that's been observed by many NFL analysts is that Jackson is a much better vertical scrambler than he is a horizontal one. This means that he's more dangerous running straight ahead than he is shuffling to the side since he can't accelerate as much moving side to side.

Containing Jackson in the pocket will be critical in this game. That isn't because he's a poor thrower, he's going to win another MVP for a reason, but the Chiefs are more likely to get burned by Jackson's legs than his arm. Kansas City has a more than good enough secondary to cover Baltimore's receivers reasonably well, but when Lamar Jackson scrambles, it's very difficult to stop.

The Chiefs need to be disciplined in preventing rushing lanes from opening up when Lamar Jackson drops back. They should also place a spy on him for most of the game. Willie Gay might return for this game from a neck injury and he's a perfect spy. If he can't go, then Leo Chenal would also work. He's athletic and is one of the best tacklers on the team.

Stopping Jackson from scrambling is much easier said than done. He's one of the most prolific running quarterbacks in NFL history and has run for at least 30 yards in 15 of his 17 games this season and at least 40 yards in 11 games. There's not much that even an elite defense like Kansas City can do.

If he were to scramble, the Chiefs must force him toward the sideline instead of straight ahead. It'll make it easier to catch him and he's not as strong throwing on the move as Patrick Mahomes is.

A huge part of winning this game for Kansas City is preventing Lamar Jackson from doing what he's best known for and that will be exceptionally challenging. If they can succeed in doing so, they'll have a strong chance of limiting a prolific Baltimore offense.