The Kansas City Chiefs defensive line had an up and down game against the Cleveland Browns in week 1. While star defensive tackle Chris Jones had 2 sacks, the rest of the defensive line didn't bring a whole lot to the pass-rush game and the entire unit struggled against the run, giving up 153 yards on the ground.
There are quite a few factors that are the reason the Chiefs defensive line performed the way they did. Firstly, the Browns do have arguably the best offensive line in the league so it was a tough matchup to begin with. Secondly, this was a defensive line that was missing Frank Clark, albeit Clark hasn't been great, he is still a guy on the line and the Chiefs best run-stopping defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi was coming off a hip flexor injury that was clearly still bothering him.
Now, the Chiefs have had a week to get healthy and prepare for their upcoming game against the Baltimore Ravens on the road. Luckily for the Chiefs, the Ravens offensive front is a unit that will be vulnerable.
According to the Ravens latest injury report, All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley is looking unlikely to play with an ankle injury which would be a huge hit to that line.
In addition, Alejandro Villanueva, a free agent addition to the Ravens offensive line this past offseason really struggled against the Las Vegas Raiders in week 1 and he is slated to start at right tackle where Chris Jones is likely to be lined up across from.
The unfortunate reality with Villanueva is that even though he put in a lot of good years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, there was a reason he sat so long in free agency and his play is quickly declining.
Look for the Chiefs to attack the bookends with what should be a healthy mix of Frank Clark with something to prove, Chris Jones, Mike Danna, and Tershawn Wharton. If the Ravens gave up 3 sacks against the Raiders then the Chiefs should have no problem matching or surpassing that. The line just has too much talent and athleticism to not give the Ravens some issues if Las Vegas can do so effectively.
As for the middle of the defense, they have an opportunity to have a bounce back game against the run as the Ravens running back room is completely depleted with J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill all out our for the year with knee injuries. Ty'Son Williams had a nice game against the Raiders with 100 yards from scrimmage but he is no Gus Edwards or J.K. Dobbins.
The Ravens interior offensive line is a little better than the situation at the tackle spots at the moment with names like Kevin Zeitler and Bradley Bozeman, but Jarran Reed and Derrick Nnadi are good enough players to make more of an impact in this game than they did against Cleveland's stout front. Tershawn Wharton and Khalen Saunders overpowered Cleveland's guards on a few occasions despite never hitting home, so if they continue to put in the effort against Baltimore they should flash in this game as well.
The Ravens are also coming off a Monday night game that went to overtime so it'll be a short week for them to prepare and regain their footing after their first game of the season. It will be an advantage for the Chiefs who once again, feature a lot of athleticism on the defensive line and can quickly wear down an offense and create problems like we saw in their first game against Cleveland as the game progressed.
The last thing to consider is that Lamar Jackson is an escape artist and the best running quarterback in the league, so the Chiefs won't be able to afford to miss tackles in the backfield. However, Jackson knows he will have to use his arm if the Ravens want to win this game which should force more stints in the pocket which should theoretically give the Chiefs defensive line a chance to make a statement in this game.