The Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl but didn’t have to play the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. Are the Ravens their biggest threat in the AFC?
The Baltimore Ravens had themselves a phenomenal season in 2019. Quarterback Lamar Jackson won NFL MVP unanimously. Baltimore went 14-2 and earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. Unfortunately, they could not get past the No. 6-seeded Tennessee Titans in the AFC Divisional round. Are the Ravens still the biggest challenger to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC?
On this week’s episode of Stacking the Box, FanSided‘s Matt Verderame and Mark Carman, along with former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, look at the upper tier of the AFC and assess who is the biggest challenger in the conference to the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. Is it the Ravens or has another AFC franchise eclipsed them heading into 2020 (33:15)?
“I’m out because the biggest challenger is the New England Patriots,” said Schwartz. Assuming Tom Brady comes back and they address tight end in free agency, whether it’s Hunter Henry of the Los Angeles Chargers or Austin Hooper of the Atlanta Falcons, Schwartz feels the Patriots are right back in the AFC Championship next year. “Their defense is built to beat the Chiefs.”
“I will buy that the Ravens are the biggest challenge and here’s why,” said Verderame. “I was somewhat skeptical of Lamar Jackson’s ability to throw the ball, and I still am.” He cites that Baltimore is in a better salary-cap situation because the Ravens don’t have to re-sign their quarterback just yet to a long-term deal like the Patriots have to do. Plus, that defense is great.
Outside of New England, there isn’t another team you can say is firmly in that upper tier with the Chiefs other than Baltimore. Unless you believe what the Tennessee Titans did in the second half of the year is sustainable going forward, then that is your holy triumvirate of football powers in the AFC entering 2020. It really comes down to if you prefer Baltimore to New England.
Though the AFC North projects to be slightly better than the AFC East in 2020, the biggest to be in on the Ravens over New England is we are more likely to see Jackson develop in his third year as an NFL quarterback than see Brady play closer to his NFL MVP campaign from a few years ago. It’s not like the Patriots have all that young of a roster either. It’s Baltimore’s time, not New England’s.
Here are a few other topics discussed on this week’s episode of Stacking the Box:
- Chiefs win or Niners lose? (19:49)
- Schwartz breaks down 3rd and 15 (23:29)
- Which playoff teams will miss in 2020? (28:16)
- Which teams make the playoffs that missed in 2019? (29:52)
All this and more!