- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Let’s take a look:
The Chiefs rush five or more defenders 26.7 of the time, which is more than six percent lower than the NFL average. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco is effective against the heavy rush. Flacco has thrown the fourth fewest amounts of interceptions against the scheme.
An interesting facet to watch is Flacco against the Chiefs’ blitzing from their defensive backs. The Chiefs have the best secondary blitz in the NFL. Opponents are completing just 39 percent of their passes against Kansas City when it blitzes its defensive backs. Opponents also are averaging five yards an attempt against the Chiefs and their passer rating against the Chiefs is 48. 2. The Chiefs lead the NFL in both areas.
Flacco will also have to deal with a tough sideline pass defense. The Chiefs are second in the NFL with a 46 percent competition percentage on sideline passes and they are first in the NFL, allowing 5.3 yards an attempt on sideline passes. This may be a way for the Chiefs to affect Flacco. He was ranked 20th in the NFL against sideline passes.
Cassel and Flacco use plenty of play action. Flacco has attempted more play-action passes than quarterback in the league. Flacco is especially effective inside the pocket on play-action attempts. Cassel is strong outside of pocket on play-action passes. Flacco threw out of the play action 30.7 percent of the time and Cassel has thrown out of it 23.4 of the time.
Cassel is getting more comfortable in his third season as a starter. In 2008, while with New England, Cassel scrambled once every 13.3 drop backs against a normal pass rush of four defenders. This season, he scrambled once every 23.3 percent of his drop back against a four-man rush.
There’s no doubt, Cassel is being helped by the presence of star running back Jamaal Charles. Charles averaged 6.4 yards per rush when opponents but seven or more defenders in the box pre-snap, which is the best in the NFL. Because of Charles’ presence, Cassel threw 17 touchdown passes in that scenario, which is second in the NFL. Kansas City Pro Bowl receiver Dwayne Bowe caught nine of his 15 touchdown passes against that defense.
Opponents have been called for 21 false starts this season in Kansas City. That led the NFL. That could be trouble for the Ravens. Tackle Michael Oher has been called for an NFL high false starts this season. That could be a promising combination for the Chiefs.
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