Entering the 2020 season, the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens were considered the AFC’s top contenders. The two teams, who are both undefeated after Week 2, will look to separate themselves as the Super Bowl favorite when they meet Monday night in arguably the most anticipated matchup of the young season.
The teams’ reputations are clear to even most casual fans. Kansas City is the reigning Super Bowl champion, while Baltimore has been the league’s most impressive regular-season team since 2019.
Several sportsbooks list the Chiefs and Ravens as co-Super Bowl favorites with 5/1 championship odds. No other NFL team has better than 9/1 odds to win Super Bowl LV.
Patrick Mahomes won the Super Bowl LIV MVP award, leading the Chiefs on a fourth-quarter comeback over the San Francisco 49ers for the organization’s first championship in half a century. Mahomes, the winner of the 2018 MVP award in his first season as a starter, has not slowed down a multi-threat quarterback. The 25-year-old is widely considered the league’s most dynamic player with a legitimate chance to be mentioned among the all-time greats.
But it was Lamar Jackson, not Mahomes, who was named the unanimous MVP a season ago. Baltimore’s versatile quarterback set a record with 1,206 rushing yards and led the Ravens to an NFL-best 14-2 record. Prior to the start of the season, NFL players voted Jackson as the league’s best player, ahead of Mahomes.
Botht teams are thriving in 2020. Baltimore hasn’t broken a sweat to start the season, outscoring its opponents by a league-high 49 points. Kansas City is second in the AFC with a plus-17 point differential, though it needed overtime to defeat a pesky Los Angeles Chargers defense in Week 2.
The Ravens have won 14 consecutive regular-season games with an average margin of victory just south of 19 points. Including the playoffs, the Chiefs are on an 11-game winning streak.
Kansas City and Baltimore also met in Week 3 of 2019. Mahomes threw for 374 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-28 victory at Arrowhead Stadium. Jackson didn’t throw a touchdown pass and needed a late rushing touchdown for the Ravens to only lose by a score.
The Chiefs were 4.5-point favorites at home when they hosted the Ravens a season ago. One year later, Baltimore is a 3.5-point favorite at home in an empty stadium, according to betting odds compiled by OddsShark.
It’s been two years since there was a regular-season matchup that had this much anticipation. That game was also a Monday night contest involving the Chiefs. Kansas City and the Los Angeles Rams faced off in Week 12, with both teams boasting a 9-1 record. The Rams won in a 54-51 thriller, featuring over 1,000 yards of total offense.
The Ravens were upset in their first playoff game last season, ending the possibility of an AFC Championship Game with the Chiefs.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh wasn’t coy about how much interest the game will generate.
“I don’t think you can ignore it. You can’t sit there and pretend,” Harbaugh said. “Every game is important, they all count for wins, and you don’t want to mess up one that the fans or somebody else might not think is important. But who wouldn’t get excited for a game like this? When you’re playing a team that is the defending champs, the favorites to win the whole thing again — going forward — the type of players they have, the coaches they have? You’re going to get excited about it. It’s not something that we downplay. We don’t ignore it. We try to embrace it and make the most of it.”
Best NFL Game Of 2020? Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens Meet On MNF In Possible AFC Championship Preview Wire Services/ International Business Times.