Ravens center Matt Birk's ears may still be ringing from the 2010 wild-card playoff game in Kansas City.
Birk remembers one specific play on the Kansas City goal line. Quarterback Joe Flacco was under center – just a foot or less away – and Birk could barely hear him.
"You just feel the vibration of [Flacco's] voice, that's how loud it is," Birk said.
Arrowhead Stadium, which was engineered specifically for the purpose of trapping crowd noise, is one of the league's loudest stadiums. And it will make running the Ravens' up-tempo, no-huddle offense a definite challenge Sunday.
"It's one of the greatest venues in the NFL," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It's a beautiful setting, it's traditional, and it's really, really loud. It's a sea of red. Our guys will have to be ready for that."
Baltimore has operated well in its hurry-up offense, which entails a lot of Flacco calls at the line of scrimmage as he reads the defense.
But the up-tempo offense had troubles in its only other road game this year in Philadelphia, especially in the second half when Lincoln Financial Field grew louder as the Eagles mounted a comeback. The Ravens scored just six points in the second half.
The Ravens could negate the Chiefs crowd by getting out to a big lead, but they would have to maintain it this time. Baltimore did that in the playoff game in Kansas City a couple years ago, jumping out to a 10-0 halftime lead, then scoring 13 more in the third quarter.
Baltimore can also get around the crowd noise with non-verbal communication, something they will be working on with the speakers blaring during practice this week.
If Flacco can't communicate with his linemen, receivers outside or running back, the Ravens may have to scrap the hurry-up altogether.
"Obviously, it limits your communication, but that's the homefield advantage," Birk said. "It limits the offense's ability to communicate and to communicate quickly. It will be a great challenge for us, but obviously, like we are every week, we are looking forward to it."
Flacco didn't seem too worried.
"In pretty much any stadium you would go into in the NFL there are going to be times when it is really loud and you have to be able to operate under those situations," he said. "We have all of our signals, and things like that, so that we would be able to execute at a high level and a high pace, even with the noise."
There are domes that are also considered to be especially loud, namely the Saints' Superdome and Vikings' Metrodome. But in terms of outdoor venues are concerned, Arrowhead is near the top. The NFL Network ranked Arrowhead No. 5 on its top-10 list of home-field advantages.
Birk was asked if it is indeed the loudest.
"Seriously, it could be," the 36-year-old veteran said. "It's not the most recently architecturally-engineered stadium out there, but it's loud."
But over the past couple years, Arrowhead has changed somewhat as the home fans haven't seen a lot of wins. Kansas City has won just three of its last 12 home games, and didn't sell out against AFC West division rival San Diego last week.
The Ravens are still wary, however.
"The times we played there, it's been really loud," Harbaugh said.