Ravens are embracing the hype around their primetime matchup with Chiefs

Ever since the NFL’s 2020 schedule was released the Week Three tilt between the Baltimore Ravens and the reigning Superbowl champion Kansas City Chiefs has been circled on everyone’s calendar from members of both organizations to media pundits to fans of both teams and even those of other teams that just like watching great football being played.

The last two meetings between these two juggernauts of not just the AFC but of the NFL as a whole have taken place during the early 1 PM eastern standard time Sunday window, but now that it will feature the 27th head to head matchup between the most recent league MVPs since the 1970 merger (including postseason play) and the first between two that are age 25 and under, it will be played on a national stage in primetime on Monday Night Football.

The hype surrounding this game has already garnered playoff proportions and has “Game of the Year” potential according to several pundits. These two teams appeared to be on a collision course to meet in the AFC championship last season before the Ravens were upset in the divisional round by the Tennessee Titans.

Football fans and enthusiasts everywhere felt like they were robbed of Lamar Jackson versus Patrick Mahomes Volume III with a trip to the Superbowl on the line. Even though the stakes aren’t nearly as high this time around just three weeks into the regular season, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said that he and his team are looking forward to and embracing the enormous hype surrounding their Monday night matchup with the defending champions.

“You can’t help it, you think about it,” Harbaugh said. “It’s probably the first thing that goes into your mind once you get in the locker room. You kind of start talking about the game and then everybody is talking about it in the locker room, about the next one, too. Honestly, it’s that way every week, but this probably as much as any week, we’re thinking about the next one.

“I don’t think you can ignore it. You can’t sit there and pretend. Every game is important, they all count for wins, and you don’t want to mess up one that the fans or somebody else might not think is important. But who wouldn’t get excited for a game like this? When you’re playing a team that is the defending champs, the favorites to win the whole thing again – going forward – the type of players they have, the coaches they have? You’re going to get excited about it. It’s not something that we downplay. We don’t ignore it. We try to embrace it and make the most of it.”

Both teams are undefeated at 2-0 heading into this game and since the probability of a tie is highly unlikely, there will be one team that emerges as the victor and improves to 3-0 and the later will taste the sour taste of defeat for the first time this season.

The Ravens have won 14 straight regular-season games dating back to their franchise-record 12 game winning streak to end 2019 and the Chiefs haven’t lost a game, including the playoffs when they went a perfect 3-0, since Week 10 of last season and rattled off six straight wins to end the regular season before completing a perfect postseason.

Leading the Chiefs into M&T Bank Stadium on Monday will be reigning Superbowl MVP in Mahomes who is one of the best talents at the quarterback position that the league has ever seen and is undefeated against the Ravens since taking over as the full-time starter during his league MVP winning season in 2019. Harbaugh knows all too well what kind of challenge that he presents opposing defenses and the pressure he puts on opposing offense to keep up and make plays of their own.

“He’s just been phenomenal in his first three years in the National Football League,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve seen it up-close and personal in two different occasions – at their place the last two years – where he’s made some just tremendous plays that have really, in the end, beaten us. So, we have to find a way to stop him and all those weapons they’ve got. It’s going to be a big challenge.”

Mahomes is the focal point and the engine that makes the Chiefs offense go, much like how Jackson is for the Ravens, but the mastermind behind it all is Chiefs’ Head Coach Andy Reid. Last season the long-time coach finally captured his first Superbowl that had been eluding him for decades since he got his first head coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Reid is not only one of the most brilliant offensive minds that the game has ever seen and respected league-wide, his tree of former assistants that have gone on to have tremendous success as head coaches of their own include none other than Harbaugh himself who served on his staff from 1999-2007 as the Eagles special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach (2007 only).

Harbaugh knows his mentor and close friend has a unique way of looking at the game dialing up plays to put his offense in the best position to make plays. The Ravens have plenty of respect for their Chiefs will be prepared to defend whatever they will throw or run at them.

“Andy is always looking for a play – always looking for a big play,” Harbaugh said. “Anything he does, pretty much all the time, the play is designed to try to score. That’s what you understand about Andy. That’s just the way he looks at the game. We have a lot of respect for what he does and for what they do.”

The Ravens have rarely had a home game on Monday night in primetime under Harbaugh and thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Flock faithful won’t be able to be in attendance for the rare occasion. Even though there won’t be fans in the stands, and it is still only the month of September, it will be a playoff-like atmosphere for both teams as they battle it out for early supremacy in the AFC.

“The irony of it is pretty unbelievable in terms of how few Monday night home games we’ve had in the past 13 years. We get one against the Chiefs, and it’s kind of a big game, and fans are not going to be there,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t even know what to say about that. 2020, man – it’s that kind of a crazy year, I guess. But we’ll be excited to play still. And all that being said, it’ll still be a great environment. It’ll still be a lot of fun.”

This game is much bigger than the head-to-head between Reid and his former pupil or the third time that the two most electrifying young quarterbacks in the league will face off. There are several other playmakers and coaches on both teams that will a role and could possibly even be the deciding factor in what could the preview of the AFC title game for real this time around.

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