Kickoff: 3 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium
TV: WJZ Channel 13 (Baltimore), WUSA Channel 9 (Washington), Paramount + and more. CBS crew Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analyst), Jay Feely (sideline), Evan Washburn (sideline), Tracy Wolfson (sideline)
Radio: WBAL 1090 AM & 98 Rock 97.9 FM, Sirius XM Chs. 83 or 226. Ravens crew Gerry Sandusky (play-by-play), Rod Woodson (analyst). Westwood One Sports, Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Devin McCourty (analyst), Jason McCourty (analyst), Ross Tucker (sideline)
The Chiefs lead the all-time series, 7-5, including the postseason. Baltimore and Kansas City have gone the past two regular seasons without facing each other. Their most recent game was in Week 2 of 2021, when the Ravens won a memorable 36-35 decision at M&T Bank Stadium on "Sunday Night Football." Lamar Jackson somersaulted into the end zone for the go-ahead 1-yard touchdown run with just over three minutes to play. Odafe Oweh's strip sack and fumble recovery against Patrick Mahomes on Kansas City's final possession iced the game. Overall, however, Mahomes and the Chiefs are 3-1 against Jackson and the Ravens.
Baltimore can win its third AFC Championship and reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 12 years. The Chiefs can win their fourth conference title in five years and continue their quest to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
Which star quarterback will deliver the knockout punch?
Jackson has compared this matchup to a heavyweight championship fight, and the outcome could be determined by which quarterback makes the biggest play during the final five minutes. Mahomes has been a terrific closer during his career and has been in games like this many times. However, Jackson is expected to win his second MVP award and was brilliant in the second half of Baltimore's divisional victory against the Texans. One victory away from reaching the Super Bowl, Jackson run as much, throw as much, or say as much as he feels is necessary to win. Jackson wants to get where Mahomes has been, and Mahomes wants to keep Jackson from getting there. The quarterback that has the better game is likely to move on.
How much will homefield advantage help the Ravens?
With the Ravens hosting the first conference championship game in franchise history, M&T Bank Stadium could be louder than it's ever been, which is saying a lot. The Texans had trouble communicating at the line of scrimmage last weekend and committed 11 penalties, including eight on offense. Mahomes is much more experienced than Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, but the Chiefs' quarterback said earlier this season that Baltimore and Seattle were the two loudest road stadiums he's ever played in. If the Chiefs' offense has trouble with the crowd noise, it will improve Baltimore's chances.
What impact will Mark Andrews have in his expected return?
Andrews' expected return to action after missing seven games following ankle surgery is a major development for a Baltimore team that's already humming on offense. Even if Andrews doesn't play his usual number of snaps, Jackson would welcome having one the league's most talented targets possibly available on third downs and in the red zone. If Andrews plays, it could mean fewer snaps for Isaiah Likely, who has been superb during Andrews' absence, or perhaps Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken will use Andrews and Likely together in more two tight-end sets. Whatever the case, adding Andrews to the mix gives the Chiefs even more to worry about.
The Kyle Hamilton vs. Travis Kelce matchup should be elite, and there are others.
Players to Watch
S Kyle Hamilton
Hamilton is expected to be one of the main defenders against Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who is Mahomes' go-to guy in clutch situations. Having an All-Pro safety with Hamilton's talent, size and athleticism gives Baltimore an asset against Kelce that most teams don't have. If Hamilton and his teammates can keep Kelce from going off, it will improve the Ravens' chances.
*ILB Roquan Smith
*Smith is the emotional leader of the defense and he'll be keying in on Isiah Pacheco, a physical back who doesn't shy away from contact. If the Chiefs run the football effectively, it will make Mahomes even harder to defend, and Smith doesn't plan on letting that happen. There could be major collisions when Smith and Pacheco meet.
WR Zay Flowers
Flowers is a rookie who doesn't play like one, and his ability to get open all season has been a major lift to Baltimore's offense. Chiefs Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo likes to blitz, and Jackson will want to get the ball out of his hands quickly before Kansas City pass rushers Chris Jones (10.5 sacks) and George Karlaftis III (10.5 sacks) can get home. Flowers could be targeted often and have key opportunities to keep drives going.