MVPs set to clash

Blair Kerkhoff The Kansas City Star (TNS)
FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2020, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) passes against the 49ers during the first half of the Super Bowl 54 in Miami Gardens, Fla.

The Chiefs-Ravens winner on Monday Night Football will be viewed as the AFC favorite, for now. With the new playoff format that includes seven teams and a bye for the top seed only, there's greater incentive to finish atop the division. But these teams did just that each of the past two years, the Chiefs in 2018 and Ravens in 2019 -- with MVP quarterbacks in those years -- and lost before reaching the Super Bowl.

Here's who has the edge on offense and defense:

When the Chiefs pass

The fifth- and seventh-most productive games in passing yards for Patrick Mahomes in his 33 career starts have come against the Ravens. The Chiefs won both games but one was in overtime, the other required a clutch third-down completion to run out the clock. In other words, Mahomes needed to have those big games for the Chiefs to win. The Chargers got plenty of pressure on Mahomes without blitzing last week, something the Chiefs will seek to amend.

Stat of the day: With 75 passing yards, Mahomes will become the first player in NFL history to reach 10,000 career passing yards in 35 or fewer games. Monday is Mahomes' 34th NFL game.

Edge: Chiefs

When the Chiefs run

Clyde Edwards-Helaire followed his huge debut (138 rushing yards) with a pedestrian second game when he collected 38 yards on 10 attempts last weekend. But he caught six passes for 32 yards, more in line with his advertised role as a pass catching threat. Darrel Williams left the Chargers game with an ankle injury. Darwin Thompson picked up a huge first down on a fourth-and-1 in overtime as the Chiefs showed confidence in their third running back.

Edge: Chiefs

When the Ravens pass

The Ravens are rolling with two impressive victories but if there's a concern it's on the offensive line. Lamar Jackson has been sacked six times. Still, Jackson has picked up where he left off from his 2019 MVP season with a superb start. He's completing 78 percent and hasn't thrown a pick. Marquise Brown has been the top target with 10 receptions. The Chiefs again will be short-handed in the secondary. Chargers rookie Justin Herbert made his surprise debut and passed for 311 yards last week.

Edge: Ravens

When the Ravens run

The Ravens dominated possession time in last week's victory over the Texans with an excellent ground game. Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, JK Dobbins and Jackson combined for 230 yards and a 6-yard per attempt average. This is the best way to limit Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense. Keep them on the sideline.

Edge: Ravens

FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2019, file photo, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) leaps over Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander (23) during the first half of a preseason game, in Baltimore.