Pundits Want to See Ravens-Chiefs Rematch Kick Off 2024 Season

May 1, 2024

QB Lamar Jackson

Pundits Want to See Ravens-Chiefs Rematch Kick Off 2024 Season

If the NFL continues the tradition of having the previous season’s Super Bowl champion host the NFL Kickoff Game, the 2024 regular-season opener will take place at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.

NFL.com analysts revealed which of the Chiefs’ eight home opponents they’d like to see take on the two-time defending champs. Two of the six analysts went with the Ravens in a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship.

“One of the popular beliefs coming out of last year’s AFC Championship Game was that the result came down to Baltimore blowing it instead of the Chiefs winning it. That makes for great theater in a rematch to start the season,” Jeffri Chadiha wrote. “Kansas City is chasing its third straight championship. The Ravens need to prove they didn’t waste their best chance to win a title in the Lamar Jackson era by melting down and relying on a bizarre offensive game plan. We obviously won’t know who’s going to win the AFC after one game. But we definitely would have a better sense of whether the Ravens actually can overtake the Chiefs as we move deeper into the season.”

Judy Battista also chose the Ravens.

“A repeat of the AFC Championship Game would start us off right — with a Patrick Mahomes/Lamar Jackson showcase,” Battista wrote. “And maybe Derrick Henry will remind the Ravens to run the ball to give us an early look at how AFC supremacy might shake out in 2024.”

The other teams mentioned were the Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers, and Las Vegas Raiders.

The defending champions have gone 14-5 since the NFL began the tradition. In 2013, the Super Bowl XLVII champion Ravens lost to the Broncos in the Kickoff Game, 49-27. It was played in Denver instead of Baltimore because of a scheduling conflict with the Orioles.

Fox Sports’ Nick Wright Puts Jackson in Same QB Tier as Rookie Caleb Williams

Fox Sports’ Nick Wright unveiled his post-draft quarterback tiers, which he dubbed “Mahomes Mountain.”

Even though Wright is a Kansas City native and unabashed Chiefs fan, no one can argue with his decision to put Mahomes at the top in a tier of his own. As for his placement of Jackson, Wright got it wrong.

Jackson landed in Tier 4 (which was technically Tier 3, as Wright had Tier 2 empty because “no one deserves to be within spitting distance of the namesake of the mountain”) along with the Los Angeles Rams’ Matthew Stafford, Chicago Bears rookie and No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams, and Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert.

Yes, the two-time league MVP shared a tier with a player who obviously has tremendous upside but has yet to throw a pass in the NFL.

Three quarterbacks were placed in the tier directly above Jackson’s: the Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow, Houston Texans’ C.J. Stroud, and Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen.

All outstanding talents for sure, but combined they have two less MVP awards than Jackson. Just saying.


Picking Up Odafe Oweh’s Fifth-Year Option Is a ‘Smart Move’

The Ravens’ belief in the talent of outside linebacker Odafe Oweh has never wavered, so it makes sense that they exercised the 2021 first-round pick’s fifth-year option yesterday.

Here’s what local pundits said about the decision:

**The Baltimore Sun’s Brian Wacker:** “Though the Ravens became the first team to lead the NFL in sacks, takeaways and points allowed per game last season, there are significant questions about their pass rushers going into this season. Keeping Oweh does at least maintain continuity with the thought that he could be poised to break out. … In keeping Oweh for at least another two seasons, Baltimore also gives him more time to continue to develop and produce under Outside Linebackers Coach Chuck Smith, whom the team hired in March 2023.”

**Baltimore Positive’s Luke Jones:** “Per [Pro Football Focus], Oweh finished 14th among NFL edge rushers in pass-rush win rate last season, something the Ravens value even if they hope to see more of those pressures turn into sacks. Exercising the fifth-year option is a bet on the 6-foot-5, 257-pound Oweh taking the next step as he works with respected Outside Linebackers Coach Chuck Smith for a second straight spring and summer. … The explosion of the edge rusher market in recent years is likely another reason why the Ravens are taking a calculated risk on Oweh’s pressure rate, which can be predictive of a breakout in the sacks department. His 2025 salary would currently rank 22nd among edge rushers in average annual value.”

**Baltimore Beatdown’s Frank Platko:** “While somewhat surprising, the decision to pick up Oweh’s fifth-year option makes sense. Oweh is still in need of a breakout year but has flashed enough playmaking and production to be confident a complete season is on the horizon. Finding edge rushers with his blend of raw athleticism and upside is not easy and he plays an important premier position. Now he has the next two seasons to continue developing and emerge as an integral piece to the Ravens’ defensive success. This nullifies the risk of Oweh pricing himself out of Baltimore after 2024 and ensured the Ravens have adequate depth at the position.”

**Baltimore Beatdown’s Joshua Reed:** “This ensures the Ravens’ outside linebacker depth chart will stay intact for two more years ,[space]and Oweh’s salary of $13.251 million in the final year of his rookie deal could wind up being a tremendous bargain if he takes his game to another level and stays healthy after flashing game-breaking potential for stretches during his first three years in the league. Even if he doesn’t reach double figures in sacks but still sets a new career high in 2024, his game has always been more about generating consistent pressures, although this could be the year he puts it all together. Getting ahead of the breakout and locking him up for another year is a smart move that could save them more in the long run if the two sides agree to an extension at any time over the next two years.”

**Ebony Bird’s Mike Luciano:** “A breakout in his fourth year in the league wouldn’t be uncommon, especially considering what his teammate on the defensive line just did. Justin Madubuike had been an average defensive tackle to start his Ravens career, but a preposterous 2023 campaign led to a contract worth just under $100 million over four seasons. He finally managed to put it all together, which is what Baltimore expects Oweh to do after this commitment to him. Not only is this a sign that Baltimore believes Oweh is in for a breakout season, but it prevents them from falling into the same situation that forced Patrick Queen away to the rival Steelers. Baltimore showed what they think of Oweh and his talent. Now, it’s on him to justify that confidence.”

Final Drive: Why the Odafe Oweh Fifth-Year Option Is a Good Move

Getting Devontez Walker and T.J. Tampa in Fourth Round Is ‘Daylight Robbery’

PFF’s Sam Monson named the Ravens’ class as one his favorites of the 2024 draft. He was especially complimentary of two of the Ravens’ Day 3 picks.

“[Devontez] Walker at receiver and T.J. Tampa at cornerback in the fourth round is daylight robbery,” Monson wrote. “Walker averaged 2.28 yards per route run last season with an average depth of target 18.2 yards downfield. He had a terrible Senior Bowl week full of drops but totaled only three drops last season for North Carolina.”

NFL’s Nick Shook also was complimentary of Walker.

“I love the Walker selection, as the Ravens bought relatively low on a receiver who would’ve been on more radars had the NCAA not gotten in the way of his ability to participate in his first and only season at North Carolina,” Shook wrote.

PFF recognized Tampa as one of the biggest Day 3 steals.

“Tampa’s slide stopped at Pick No. 130, giving the Ravens two of PFF’s top-eight cornerback prospects — the other being Nate Wiggins,” PFF wrote. “Earning a 78.3 coverage grade in 2023, Tampa allowed just one touchdown and forced an incompletion or interception on 16.3% of targets into his coverage. With Marlon Humphrey established as a starter, and Wiggins likely getting first crack at starting reps opposite him, Tampa offers upside as a depth piece who can develop into a solid starter down the road.”

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