Game Overview...

You just knew the Chiefs would ‘find a way’...

It was not a masterpiece, but KC jumped out to an early 7-0 lead and just grabbed the momentum to set the tone. The Ravens answered back quickly to tie it up, but then the Chiefs answered that back and really took the wind out of the Ravens, and their fans' sails.

The two teams engaged in a slugfest all TDs scored by either team, a defense war. Credit both teams for how well their defenses played. It was one of those throwback ‘bully’ defensive struggle games where it was a shame either team had to lose...but the team with the players involved in the most TV commercials won, again.

I’m joking about that last line. I mean...can we now put to bed all these conspiracy theories every week? First, we had ‘the NFL picked purple and red for the Super Bowl colors weeks ago...they’re telling you they’ve preordained Ravens-49ers!' Can I ask why the NFL would do that...pre-pick the winners...and it does not involve Kansas City? Like, if you were in the NFL conspiracy department and your goal was to have the matchup with the most worldwide interest...why would you choose the Ravens over KC making matchups/winner? It makes no sense.

2023 into 2024...I’m done with conspiracy theories, even the ones that may end up being true – football-wise or politics or whatever. I know, I know...some universal nobody, an average joe from East Bumf@#% USA listened to a podcast or read a book, and now knows all the secret shadow government activity that truly runs the world and they just know the NFL is part of the grand conspiracy that THEY know all about. Ughhh...

That being said, enjoy the next two weeks of Super Bowl lead up on how various people know the NFL wants the Chiefs to win because of a grand Taylor Swift theory. Again, if I were Chief of Conspiracy for the NFL, I’d have Taylor Swift involved with CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jones and push Dallas through to the Super Bowl...if I were trying to generate the most viewing/heat. Does the NFL really need Taylor Swift to push the NFL onto the world? Do you think the NFL is smart enough to concoct such a plan...and execute it, forcing poor Taylor to be in a sham relationship with Travis Kelce...just to hope to convert 10-year-old girls into NFL fans? OK conspiracy genius...did you think about what would happen if all that were true, that this NFL is using Swift as propaganda, then what if Kelce breaks up with Swift and breaks her heart? Wouldn’t those same fickle, prepubescent fans feel burned by the caveman, evil football player and thus despise all football players and the game itself going forward? You’re willing to risk this masterplan on Kelce staying true to Swift? And if Swift dispatches Kelce like yesterday’s news, then won’t her fans be sent a message to also dispatch the NFL? You can conspiracy yourself into madness.

Where was I? Oh, sidetracked by conspiracy theories...

The Ravens fall short of the title game,’d think for as much as the NFL loves Lamar Jackson, they’d figure out a way, a conspiracy, to get him to not fail in big games. Bad news for the Ravens to repeat in the AFC North in 2024...Joe Burrow should be back healthy. Good news for the Ravens to repeat in the AFC North in 2024: The Steelers hired Arthur Smith as O-C.

The Chiefs + Taylor Swift go on to the finals, again...just the way the NFL pre planned it. I wanna bet against the Chiefs because they’ve been just skating by for several weeks now, but the only team skating by more than KC is the 49ers.


*Note any fractional numbers in parentheses (4/2) or (2/3), etc., are a 'split' stat on our definition of a 'quality start' (or not) marker on a player -- using 14 PPR points in a game for RB-WR-TE and 21 for a QB ...point levels that are good/productive/well above average starts for a Fantasy week. Trying to identify trends, consistency (or not) in players we might not normally realize.

A (3/2), for example, means: 3 times the player hit at/above the QUALITY mark, and 2 times they did not (this current season).



Player Dynasty/Fantasy Notes...

 -- The Isiah Pacheco (24-68-1, 4-14-0/4) OVER rushing yards 64.5 was one of my top prop bets of the Conference Finals, behind only Brock Purdy’s OVER passing yards...and we hit both of them by the skin of our teeth.

I said, prior to the game on the Bet The Close podcast, that I would know who won the game/how the Chiefs did if you told me (from the future, pre-game) how many rushing attempts and rushing yards Pacheco had in the game. I thought the Chiefs would try to run it heavy and try to expose the Ravens wobbly run defense (of late) and also try to keep Lamar out of sync. Well...Pacheco tied a career high with 24 carries and set a career high with 28 total touches...and Lamar was out of sync...and the Chiefs won.

We may see a repeat plan against the 49ers.

Pacheco has a TD in 7 straight games (8 TDs in that span).


 -- And Lamar Jackson (20-37 for 272 yards, 1 TD/1 INT, 8-54-0) was out of the KC defense, and the offensive plan to focus on the run game and running the clock and not getting baited into making this a Mahomes v. Lamar shootout game.


 -- Zay Flowers (5-115-1/8) probably is the #1 cause for the Ravens loss here...despite all the Pacheco and run game strategy, Flowers was going in for a TD to take back the game momentum in the 2nd-half but as he dove for the goal line the ball got knocked out at the 1-yard TD, a turnover instead. Zay also had a stupid penalty for taunting in the game. I thought Flowers was more of a professional, but he made key mental mistakes here...then topped it off by getting mad and punching a seat or helmet or whatever and cutting his hand and having to deal with that down the stretch as well.

Regardless, Flowers is the Ravens #1 WR now...and into the future.


 -- Mark Andrews (2-15-0/2) is also a top target for Lamar/Baltimore, the Ravens top target when push comes to shove. Isaiah Likely (2-16-0/3) will fade into the background in 2024, as long as Andrews is there. I wondered if the Ravens might consider trading Andrews, but I think they will more likely deal Likely and keep Andrews as a fixture/leader for as long as John Harbaugh is there...and assuming Andrews is still mobile.

This is a Ravens passing game that is low volume and likes to spread it around in bits and pieces with Flowers-Andrews as the lead, but they can only go so FF-high because of the low volume and spread. Bateman-OBJ-Agholor-Likely can’t get FF-viable here when Zay and Andrews are playing, and even when they’re not.


 -- Another weaker Patrick Mahomes (30-39 for 241 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) output game. He’s been under 250 yards passing in a game in eight of his last 12 games. He’s not ‘losing it’ just shows what the weak WR group around him and porous O-C (Nagy) can do to any offense. KC has the worst group of WRs in the NFL...and yet, here they are in the title game Tyreek Hill is not playing February football again, and is instead getting divorced from his wife a few weeks (not a typo) while also battling several paternity suits/cases.

Ultimately, KC won the Tyreek trade...and it will only look smarter as we go from here, as Tyreek’s downfall begins in the years to come. Tyreek suddenly cannot afford to retire early...


 -- Rashee Rice (8-46-0/9) is part of the WR problem, kinda... He’s a nice add, but he’s not a real #1. Teams are starting to adjust to him being the main/only WR they can get anything out of. Two games in a row with under 50 yards receiving. 1 TD in his last 5 games. He’s a much better #2-3 than #1...and he should be down to a #2-3 in 2024, assuming the Chiefs sign or trade or draft a true #1 WR.


 -- Travis Kelce (11-116-1/11) is pumping his Dynasty value back up in the playoffs...three straight games with 70+ yards and then this ‘more like it’ game of 11 catches and over 100+ yards. I got a +8500 bet on Kelce as the Super Bowl MVP, placed last I hope the Taylor Swift-Kelce conspiracy takes one final step forward.


 -- IDP notes...

I was wrong with my pre-Draft scouting on Kyle Hamilton (11 tackles, 1 TFL). I did not like his game in college. I thought he was soft and only good for coverage. He’s been a good-to-great all-around safety weapon for this defense. A rare RC scouting loss, but I gotta own it.

And maybe I need to own my George Karlaftis (4 tackles, 1 sack) scouting too? I loved him at first sight/preview and then cooled on him with more study pre-his draft year. He hasn’t been a huge breakout success, statically (but fine), yet...but he played an excellent game here of putting pressure on hard-to-get-to Lamar and played the run game well. He was just always creating havoc in this game, it seemed.

Drue Tranquill (8 tackles) filled in for Willie Gay and led the team in tackles and also helped secure this defensive battle win. I bring this up because – Tranquill was really good for LAC in 2022, but was allowed to walk in free agency 2023 and league ignored him, and KC picked him up for peanuts...and I pointed this out last March, and here we are – it was a key, cost-effective add that helped KC cover a missing starter and thus head to the Super Bowl. Where were all the other teams in need of a linebacker last offseason? Like...the Eagles didn’t give this guy the time of day...probably because he didn’t go to Georgia, so he can’t be any good. A subtle but important cheap free agent signing paid big dividends here this game.



Snap Counts of Interest:


39 = Likely

18 = Andrews

03 = Kolar


39 = Justice

19 = Gus E


52 = Flowers

37 = Bateman

34 = OBJ

33 = Agholor


64 = Pacheco

17 = CEH


65 = Kelce

47 = Gray

16 = BBell