Fox Sports' Nick Wright 'Not Buying Ravens As a Real Super Bowl Team'
The Ravens-Chiefs debate continues to be a major talking point among national pundits.
Baltimore is currently the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but is it truly the best team in the conference? Or does defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City, the No. 2 seed, still reign supreme?
Fox Sports' Nick Wright completely dismissed the Ravens as a threat to the Chiefs.
"I do not look at the Ravens as a juggernaut," Wright said on his “What’s Wright?” show. "They have an excellent defense and Lamar [Jackson] can be dynamic, but I don't think Lamar played very well in that Chargers game. I don't think Lamar's played that well since that Lions game. So, no, I'm not buying the Ravens as a real Super Bowl team."
Wright went on to say that the Chiefs also have an excellent defense, and he believes Kansas City has the edge on offense, especially with tight end Mark Andrews likely out for the season.
"The Chiefs' biggest question is their receiving corps. The Ravens' biggest edge on the Chiefs is supposed to be their receiving corps," Wright said. "Their excellent tight end is done for the year. The Chiefs' excellent tight end (Travis Kelce) is coming off a hundred-yard game. The Ravens' star rookie wide receiver (Zay Flowers) has put up a slightly less productive season than the Chiefs rookie wide receiver (Rashee Rice) despite way more opportunities. So I think the Ravens offense is concerning."
For the record, Flowers has 58 receptions for 613 yards (10.6 yards per catch) on 80 targets in 12 games; Rice has 44 catches for 527 yards (12.5 yards per catch) on 56 targets in 11 games.
While Wright's argument isn't without merit, it's worth mentioning that he is a Kansas City native and unabashed Chiefs fan — so much so that he predicted them to go 20-0 this season and even got "never a doubt" tattooed on his forearm supposedly in reference to the bold prediction.
Meanwhile, the “Good Morning Football” crew discussed whether the Ravens or Chiefs are the more dangerous team. Jason McCourty went with the Ravens.
"When you talk about being dangerous, yes I know [Patrick Mahomes] has done it time after time after time on the biggest stages, but I'm rolling with the Baltimore Ravens right now," McCourty said. "I think Lamar Jackson, his ability to make plays on the outside, it hasn't happened every week consistently, but I think his weapons in Zay Flowers and Odell Beckham Jr., to Keaton Mitchell now as a running back, the young undrafted rookie, him adding some explosion in the backfield. And I think on top of these are going to be two good defenses, but I just feel really good about this Baltimore Ravens team of where they're going and how well Lamar has played.
"As the season continues to go on, I think their offense is going to continue to blossom and their defense is going to continue to ball."
Is Kyle Hamilton the 'Ultimate Travis Kelce Stopper?'
If the Ravens and Chiefs do end up meeting in the playoffs, "Good Morning Football's" Peter Schrager said defensive back Kyle Hamilton could play a critical role by neutralizing Kelce.
"You know who might be the ultimate Travis Kelce stopper? This Kyle Hamilton in Baltimore," Schrager said. "What he does is built to be exactly that, because he can play corner and safety, but he also can play the nickel corner, and that's the kind of guy that can just eliminate a tight end. If we get that matchup, I'm already excited for that, Baltimore vs. K.C., because Kyle Hamilton might be finally the X-factor that stops him."
It was noted that defenses have focused on slowing Kelce this season and it appears to be working. The four-time All-Pro is averaging a career-low 10.5 yards per catch. He had a combined 303 receiving yards in back-to-back games against the Chargers and Broncos last month but is averaging 53.6 yards in the eight other games he has played.
As for Hamilton, his versatile skill set was on full display in Sunday night's win over the Chargers.
"I told you from the beginning, in my first presser in the beginning of the year, I told you that he was going to be a Pro-Bowl type of player," Pass Game Coordinator/Secondary Coach Chris Hewitt said of the 2022 first-round pick. "He does everything; he covers, he blitzes, he tackles. There's nothing that kid can't do. Don't let the babyface fool you. He'll try to rip your face off."
Ravens' Coaching Decisions Receive Praise, Criticism
The Athletic's Ted Nguyen looked at the best and worst coaching decisions from Week 12, and the Ravens had one in each category.
Nguyen praised Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald for setting up the Chargers for game-winning pressure,
"On Sunday night, Macdonald set up the Chargers for a big play at a critical juncture in the game," Nguyen wrote. "He called one of Baltimore's favorite pick stunts from an overload front early in the game and just before he hit them with a counter. Down three points in the fourth quarter, the Chargers had a chance to tie or win the game. The Ravens' defense needed a stop. On second down, Macdonald called their pick stunt from an overload front to the left in which Patrick Queen sets a pick to free up defensive tackle Broderick Washington. The Chargers slid their protection toward the overload side and running back Austin Ekeler had to come across the formation to account for Queen. On the right side of the line, the guard and tackle have a two-on-two but Roquan Smith would drop back instead of rush.
"On the fourth down of the same series, Macdonald's counter caught the Chargers completely off guard. Again, the Ravens lined up in their overload front but this time, to the right. Queen lined up on the right edge to occupy Ekeler. The Chargers slid their protection to the overload side and the left guard and tackle had a two-on-two on the backside. The Ravens did a good job of disguising their slot blitz on the backside and creating a three-on-two. No one accounted for slot corner Arthur Maulet and Justin Herbert was called for intentional grounding."
Nguyen was not a fan of Head Coach John Harbaugh's non-challenges.
"In two separate instances, it appeared a Ravens runner got the ball past the first down marker but Head Coach John Harbaugh didn't even appear to think about challenging the calls," Nguyen wrote. "With 4:48 remaining in the first quarter, on third-and-3, Lamar Jackson scrambled, lowered his shoulder against linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr., and extended the ball past the marker. Instead of taking the time to let the coaches upstairs review the play to give a recommendation on whether to challenge or not, the Ravens tried to catch the defense off guard. They hurried to the line and ran a wildcat play with Gus Edwards taking the snap that was stopped short of the line.
"With 8:31 remaining in the third quarter on second-and-22, Jackson completed a pass to Nelson Agholor, who looked like he got enough yardage for the first down. The replay clearly showed Agholor rolled over a defender's body to get past the sticks. The Ravens hurried to the line and attempted a pass on third-and-1 that fell incomplete. To their credit, they did convert on fourth down but it didn't have to be that hard."
Harbaugh has explained his thinking for not challenging the plays, and The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec was less critical of the decisions.
"Harbaugh said the Ravens did not challenge the spot on Jackson's 2-yard run in the second quarter that preceded Gus Edwards getting stuffed on fourth-and-1 because they didn't think there was enough evidence to overturn it," Zrebiec wrote. "Their review of the play, Harbaugh said, reinforced that belief. The Ravens have staff members who study reviews and claim that plays, like the Jackson run, where ball carriers are almost going out of bounds parallel to the first-down marker rarely get overturned. On the second one, Nelson Agholor's 21-yard catch in which the ball was spotted probably a yard and a half shorter than where it should have been, creating a third-and-1, Harbaugh said he and his staff thought the team had been given a first down. With the offense in hurry-up, the Ravens coaches apparently didn't realize quickly enough that it was actually third and not first down.
"The explanation on the Jackson run makes sense. That was a borderline call and Baltimore had done the research on how many of those types of plays get overturned. Unless you're confident you're going to win that, losing a challenge in the second quarter when you are inches away from the first down isn't preferable. On the second one, I have no issue taking the Ravens at their word. Two other coaches, who were in the box upstairs, mentioned that they didn't realize it wasn't a first down. Still, you would think that somebody on the sideline would have noticed that the chains hadn't been moved and Baltimore could have handled things accordingly."