Ravens at Chiefs -- Week 5
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo. (grass, outdoors)
When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Spread: Ravens by 6
Records: Ravens (Overall: 3-1, AFC North: 2-0); Chiefs (Overall: 1-3, AFC West: 0-1)
Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Jan. 9, 2011: Ravens 30, Chiefs 7 (2010 AFC Wild Card game). Sept. 13, 2009: Ravens 38, Chiefs 24. Series record: Chiefs hold a 3-2 regular-season advantage over the Ravens. Baltimore is 1-0 over Kansas City in the postseason.
What matters: The Ravens will need to force Chiefs QB Matt Cassel to make the same mistakes he's made all season. Cassel has thrown seven interceptions and fumbled the football four times, hurting his team in crucial situations. If it weren't for Kansas City's minus-13 turnover margin, the Chiefs might be in a better situation. Forcing turnovers from Cassel begins up front with the Baltimore defense. If the Ravens' front seven can generate pressure and force Cassel to throw the ball under pressure, then the turnovers will come. But if the trend continues and Baltimore allows Cassel to have time, then the Chiefs could become a dangerous offensive team with a top-notch running attack.
Who matters: WRs Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones will need to fight off the press coverage from Chiefs CBs Stanford Routt and Brandon Flowers. Kansas City plays a similar Cover-1 look that Philadelphia employs, which gave the Ravens fits in the second half of their Week 2, 24-23 loss to the Eagles. For the offense to have success, Smith and Jones will need to stretch the defense and force the corners to back off a bit, which should then open up the intermediate routes as the game goes on.
Key matchups: Ravens TE Dennis Pitta vs. Chiefs SS Eric Berry. Pitta has become QB Joe Flacco's favorite target, though Pitta went without a catch on two targets a week ago against the Browns. Pitta faces a tough matchup with Berry, who's solid in man-to-man coverage. For the Ravens' passing attack to work in short yardage situations, Pitta will need to win key one-on-one battles against one of the better strong safeties in the league. ... Ravens front seven vs. Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles. Charles has the ability to move east to west before cutting a run upfield and past everyone on the football field. Baltimore's run defense has held running backs to just over three yards per carry this season and that trend must continue for the Ravens to be successful on Sunday.
Injuries of note: Only OL Jah Reid (calf) and WR Torrey Smith (ankle) have been on the injury report this week. Smith is expected to play on Sunday. Reid's status is uncertain as he's missed the previous four games.
Inside stuff: The Chiefs give up an average of 118 rushing yards per game. Not only could RB Ray Rice have a big day, but backup RB Bernard Pierce could be in line for some increased time. Pierce ran for 48 yards on just six carries a week ago against Cleveland.
Connections: Chiefs GM Scott Pioli was Baltimore's pro personnel coordinator in 1996, after moving to Baltimore from Cleveland the prior year. ... Ravens S Bernard Pollard was drafted by Kansas City in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft, playing with the organization until 2008. ... Ravens DC Dean Pees and Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel were on the same staff in New England from 2004-2005. ... Chiefs QBs coach Jim Zorn served in the same capacity with Baltimore in 2010. ... Chiefs players WR Terrance Copper, LB Edgar Jones and C Bryan Mattison have previously played for the Ravens.
Stat you should know: Flacco has thrown 132 passing attempts of 20 or more yards this season through four games. For the entire 2011 season, Flacco threw just 88 attempts of 20 or more yards.
Looking ahead: Getting a win at Kansas City will be important, considering the next two opponents are Dallas, an underachieving but talented team (Oct. 14) and Houston, the AFC's best squad through the first quarter of the season (Oct. 21).
Prediction: Ravens 26, Chiefs 23
Follow Ravens reporter Jason Butt on Twitter @CBSRavens and @JasonButtCBS.