The recipe for how the Chiefs can stop the Ravens offense is very simple

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense aren't invincible.

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens
AFC Divisional Playoffs - Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens / Kirby Lee/GettyImages
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The Baltimore Ravens present a unique challenge to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game this Sunday as they not only have the league's No. 1 defense this season, but they also were the No. 2 scoring offense in the NFL. Baltimore is the one-seed in the playoffs for a reason. They dominated the opposition nearly all year long, and they don't have very many weaknesses.

Despite that, the Chiefs defense has easily been the best Patrick Mahomes has ever had to play with in his career. Before the Divisional Round game against Buffalo, the Chiefs defense hadn't allowed more than 20 points in six straight games and despite a rough first half, they were able to accumulate stops in the second half and held the Bills to just 7 points in the final 30 minutes of game time.

We all know that the competition gets tougher in the postseason and the Baltimore Ravens have a dangerous offense, possibly the most difficult to stop that the Chiefs have seen all year. However, the recipe to slowing down the Ravens offense is very simple.

KC Chiefs have the recipe to stop Ravens offense

People will roll their eyes at the seemingly cop-out of an answer that you have to contain Lamar Jackson and the running game, but it's true and it's what the Ravens have always done.

2023 was no different than past years for Baltimore as they were No. 1 in the league in percentage of offensive plays being a running play. More than 51% of their offensive plays were either handing the ball off or a designed run for Jackson this season and with a league that continually leans more into the passing game year after year, that's true dedication to the running game. Consequently, Baltimore was last in the NFL in pass play percentage.

The objective is rather clear for Kansas City's defense. While defending the run has actually been the achilles heel of the Chiefs defense this year, it also seems to be more of an effort thing than a talent thing. The defense was without starting linebacker Nick Bolton for a large portion of the season and the run defense has improved since his return. The defensive tackle room hasn't been great this year, but it still has Chris Jones who is a great run defender when he wants to be.

It's a little reminiscent of the 2019 AFC Championship game when all the talk was about Derrick Henry and how he was going to run all over the Chiefs but Kansas City, who didn't have a great run defense by any means that year, held Henry to well under 100 yards on their way to the Super Bowl. It was because the Chiefs defense emphasized stopping the run. Whenever the Chiefs want to stop the run, they can and they even did it last weekend as James Cook ended up running for negative yards in the second half.

Not only that, but Steve Spagnuolo is still the defensive coordinator for this team and he has found creative ways for his less than ideal personnel to be effective against the run in the past. This time around, Spagnuolo has the personnel and he has been on a tear this year.

This coaching staff knows what they're doing and will continue to try and limit Lamar Jackson. Against Buffalo, defensive line coach Joe Cullen actually discouraged the defensive ends from winning up the arc, because he didn't want to open up a clear running lane for Josh Allen to run free and emphasized conatinment and forcing Josh Allen to make some tough throws.

While Allen was able to make some tough throws, and he always was going to, the Chiefs trusted their corners in the secondary and fans should expect a lot of the same versus Baltimore. There will be a set plan in place that will revolve around stopping Lamar Jackson and the Ravens run game, and the Chiefs will want to force Lamar Jackson to stand in the pocket and make some throws.

Now, I should clarify that I am not saying "Lamar Jackson can't throw", as it is an overused and lazy analysis. However, it is the weaker part of his game. Jackson is likely on his way to his second MVP and he was top ten in both completion percentage and yards per pass this season.

In the same breath, Jackson is not made to stand back in the pocket and make a bunch of deep throws. The Chiefs have not allowed a single 300-yard passer this year, and it's hard to see Jackson being the first with the way the secondary has played all year and how much the middle-of-the-field defense has improved with the additions of Drue Tranquill to the defense.

Furthermore, Kansas City was second in the league in sacks this season behind Baltimore while Baltimore's offensive line was 24th in the NFL in sacks allowed. If Kansas City can successfully get Baltimore into a passing pattern on offense, they will have the advantage because they've shut down passing offense all season.

We also know that Steve Spagnuolo likes to dial up exotic blitzes and will bring pressure from unknown places. The key will be to get the Ravens into 3rd and long consistently with the run defense stopping those early down running plays.

Unrelated, but if the Chiefs offense can get out to an early lead, the Ravens offense will feel pressured to throw the ball and play catch-up. That is something that has happened several times in the last few meetings between these two teams that has made it hard for the Ravens to beat Kansas City. They aren't built to come from behind.

Ultimately, Kansas City will need to contain Lamar Jackson and the run game a lot better than the Houston Texans did if they want to win this one. The Texans were able to successfully get pressure on Jackson, but they failed miserably at stopping the run and that's why they aren't playing in this game.

The objective is clear, though, make the Ravens uncomfortable and dare Lamar Jackson to challenge Trent McDuffie and L'Jarius Sneed downfield. If Kansas City can do that consistently, you have to feel good about their chances to head to another Super Bowl.

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