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The 2022 Chiefs Largest Threat In The AFC (Isn’t Buffalo)

Who poses the biggest threat to the Chiefs in the AFC next season? The answer might not be who comes to mind first.

Who poses the biggest threat to the Chiefs in the AFC next season? The answer might not be who comes to mind first.

When discussing the AFC pecking order, the Chiefs, Bills, and Bengals are usually ranked at the top. Of course, Cincinnati represented the conference in last year’s Super Bowl and, as a result, gets a ton of credit as a top threat to Kansas City once again next season.

Additionally, we all remember the instant classic that took place in last year’s Divisional Round of the playoffs. The game, which saw four scoring drives in the final two minutes of regulation, is seen by many as a clear preview of 2022’s AFC Championship game. The Bills and Chiefs seem destined to meet once again in next year’s playoffs in a game that hopefully won’t be decided by a coin toss.

Both teams are great and pose a true threat to the Chiefs’ 2022 Super Bowl hopes. However, another team should be seen as an even greater threat to Kansas City. Not only did the Baltimore Ravens have an outstanding 2022 NFL Draft, but they also dominated the AFC alongside the Chiefs before countless injuries derailed their hopes last year.

The Ravens should be seen as the biggest threat to Kansas City next season.

Ravens Boast Best Head Coach/Quarterback Duo (Behind Chiefs)

Aside from the Chiefs duo of Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, no team in the AFC has a better combination of Head Coach and Quarterback than the Ravens. John Harbaugh, the fourth-longest tenured head coach in the NFL, is one of the best in the league. He’s posted just two sub-.500 seasons as a head coach. One of those was last season when his team finished 8-9 and just outside of the playoff picture after a ton of awful injuries derailed their season.

Alongside Harbaugh, Lamar Jackson is still aching to make his dominance truly respected throughout the NFL. The NFL’s Unanimous MVP Winner in 2020, Jackson seems to have been passed by Josh Allen and Joe Burrow in the eyes of many. Of course, neither of those AFC quarterbacks has yet to win an MVP award. Jackson can impact the game in a way that we’ve never seen in the NFL and even if the debate about the best quarterbacks in the NFL still rages on, he is unquestionably one of the most special players the league has ever seen.

The Chiefs are thankful they haven’t met the Ravens in the postseason in the Patrick Mahomes era. In 2019, the Ravens lost to the Titans in the divisional round. 2020 saw them lose to the Bills. Both teams advanced to the AFC Championship game and lost to the Chiefs. Would the Ravens have beat Kansas City in one or both of those seasons? It’s certainly possible.

Ravens and Chiefs Ranked Among The Best Draft Classes In 2022

The Chiefs made headlines with their 2022 draft class, and rightfully so. Alongside them, drawing major hype, was Baltimore. Yes, the Ravens, not the Bills or Bengals, look to have impacted their roster most in the draft ahead of next season. The team improved both sides of the line of scrimmage and added what some saw as the best safety in the draft in first-round pick Kyle Hamilton.

Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus discussed the Raven’s draft, specifically Hamilton and center Tyler Linderbaum: “It wouldn’t surprise me whatsoever if Hamilton and Linderbaum are already considered among the best in the NFL at their respective positions by the time their rookie year is over.”

Chiefs fans may draw ire hearing what may be seen as Creed Humphrey slander, but one thing seems unquestionable: the Ravens knocked the draft out of the park and answered some serious areas of need. Pairing those draft picks, alongside some outstanding offseason free-agent signings and players returning from injury, the Ravens seem set for success next season.

Injuries to 2021 Ravens Led Many To Forget Chiefs Biggest Threat

The biggest point to make when discussing why the 2022 Ravens will be better isn’t their draft class or their offseason additions. Instead, it’s discussing starters returning from injury. Below is a list of Ravens that missed at least three games in 2021 due to injury:

  • TE Nick Boyle (Week 2-7)
  • RB JK Dobbins (Placed on IR before Week One)
  • RB Gus Edwards (Placed on IR before Week One)
  • CB Marlon Humphrey (Placed on IR before Week 13)
  • DT Xavier Kelly (Placed on IR before Week Two)
  • CB Marcus Peters (Placed on IR before Week One)
  • LT Ronnie Stanley (Missed nine games due to injury)
  • DT Derek Wolfe (Missed the entire season due to injury)

Had any other team, including the Chiefs, faced such a magnitude of injuries last season, they likely would’ve seen their season lost in a similar fashion as the Ravens. With all of these impact players healthy and ready to contribute once again, Baltimore stands to gain the most help from returning injured starters next season. Sure, the magnificent draft class will help, as will some key signings. Make no mistake, however: the 2022 Baltimore Ravens are a serious threat to the Chiefs in the AFC.

Baltimore finished 14-2 in 2019 and 11-5 in 2020. I expect the 2022 Ravens to be very similar to the 2019 version that saw Lamar Jackson win MVP. For the Chiefs’ sake, I just hope Baltimore’s playoff woes continue.

Who is the Chiefs’ biggest threat entering the 2022 NFL Season? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.

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