On Sunday night, the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens will play each other for the fourth time in four years. The expectations over the past few seasons have been high for both teams and they are led by some of the league's brightest young stars in quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.
The first meeting between the two turned into an instant classic, played in front of a sold-out crowd at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter before the game went back-and-forth the rest of the way. The Ravens scored a go-ahead touchdown with 4:04 left in the game on a nine-yard pass from Jackson to John Brown.
The following Chiefs possession provided of the greatest regular-season highlights of Mahomes' young career when he completed a fourth and long pass to Tyreek Hill to keep the drive alive before the Chiefs eventually tied the game to take it into overtime.
The Chiefs were able to convert on a Harrison Butker field goal in overtime to give the Chiefs a walk-off 27-24 win. Mahomes threw for 377 yards and two touchdowns, while Jackson threw for 147 and two touchdowns. That is where the "rivalry" began.
For their second meeting in 2019, the Ravens returned to Kansas City, looking for revenge from the previous season's defeat. It was the Ravens who took an early lead this time, leading 6-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Chiefs poured it on in the second quarter, scoring 23 unanswered points and leading 23-6 heading into the half. The Chiefs led 30-13 heading into the fourth and the Ravens' comeback came up just short as the Chiefs won the game 33-28.
Mahomes led the way with another monster effort, putting up 374 yards passing and three touchdowns. Jackson threw for 267 yards and zero touchdowns.
Their third meeting occurred in late September 2020. The Chiefs were fresh off a Super Bowl-winning season and many dubbed this the "game of the year" in the AFC. The Chiefs promptly went into Baltimore and jumped out to a 27-10 halftime lead.
Kansas City never relinquished the lead and held off Baltimore for a 34-20 road victory that was never particularly close. Mahomes threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns. Jackson only threw for 97 yards and one touchdown.
That leads us to this weekend and the fourth matchup in four years. When you look at how the first three contests played out, Mahomes showed up in the big moments and Jackson wasn't able to make enough plays throughout the game. Sure, it is a team sport and there are a lot of moving parts, but when the lights shine the brightest, the superstars need to be at the top of their game.
So is this a newfound rivalry in the AFC? Both of these teams have been projected as Super Bowl contenders each year Mahomes and Jackson have been starters on their respective teams. When two teams are battling for the AFC Championship, a natural rivalry should be formed.
However, even though the first few meetings were close, the Chiefs have yet to taste defeat at the hands of the Ravens in the Mahomes area. Jackson has yet to beat the Chiefs. Mahomes has outplayed Jackson by a wide margin in each game and continues to get better. For this to be a true rivalry, the Ravens need to win.
I don't see that happening this weekend, and the Ravens could very well be on their way to an 0-2 start. If Baltimore can't bounce back and finish at the top of their division, it's likely that these two teams will not play against each other again next year, assuming the Chiefs finish atop the AFC West, though there is always a chance they could meet in the playoffs following the 2022 regular season.
With Mahomes going 11-0 in the month of September with a 35-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio plus a multitude of injuries on the Ravens side, it seems like another Chiefs runaway victory is incoming and the "rivalry" will have to wait.