KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs are on the verge of standing alone.
With a win Sunday over the Baltimore Ravens (4-9), the Chiefs (8-5) will establish an NFL record as the first team in league history to win eight straight games after a losing streak of at least five games.
The Chiefs’ potential road to history, however, must first overcome a Jedi-like battle of master vs. pupil when Chiefs coach Andy Reid and Ravens coach John Harbaugh square off.
Just don’t expect Reid to actually compare Week 15’s matchup to a certain blockbuster movie currently sweeping the world.
“The only ‘Star Wars’ I see is when I turn off the lights and watch tape and look at No. 91 (outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw) for them and (No.) 57 (inside linebacker C.J. Mosley),” Reid said with a chuckle. “That’s enough ‘Star Wars’ for me.”
There is also the opposing coach to keep in mind.
“He’s a great football coach and he can coach any position on the field, which is unique,” ” Reid said of Harbaugh in a conference call with Ravens beat writers. “And he comes from that kind of a family. Those brothers are phenomenal coaches; dad was a Hall of Fame coach. So, that’s what he is. He’s all-in.”
Harbaugh, of course, spent nine seasons as a special teams coordinator and secondary/safeties coach under Reid in Philadelphia (1999-07).
And the Ravens head coach holds a former mentor in high regard.
“Coach Reid, gosh, what a great job he does,” Harbaugh said in a conference call with Chiefs beat writers. “He’s steady and put that team together with all their coaches and scouts and stuff.
“Not surprised at all by the success they’re having. The way they turned it around – something that we’d hoped to do as well, earlier – they were able to pull it off and just have all the respect in the world for him and them and all they do.”
Reid and Harbaugh faced off twice when Reid was still with the Eagles. The Ravens defeated Reid’s team, 36-7, in Week 12 of the 2008 season, and then Reid turned the tables with a 24-23 win in Week 2 of the 2012 season.
Given the familiarity between the two, there shouldn’t be any surprises on how the coaches view each other surrounding game preparation.
“I see a lot of familiar stuff, certainly, with what they do,” Harbaugh said. “But times change, and they’re always evolving their offense.”
Harbaugh points out the Chiefs under Reid will utilize a spread offense and incorporate read-options plays.
But while Reid’s scheme may have wrinkles to what Harbaugh knew when the two were together with the Eagles, the Ravens head coach recognizes personnel on the Chiefs’ staff, most of whom were also in Philadelphia.
“We know their coaches,” Harbuagh said. “We know their philosophies, and it’s obviously on tape. They’re doing a great job with it, and they’ve been very successful.”
The Chiefs are blossoming after starting the season at 1-5, but the Ravens have gone the opposite direction as the team deals with a plethora of season-ending injuries, which resulted in an eye-popping 17 players currently on injured reserve.
Harbaugh, however, has done his best to keep Baltimore competitive since losing the likes of quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Justin Forsett and wide receiver Steve Smith, among others.
After starting the season at 1-6, the Ravens are 3-3 in the past six games. And that accomplishment has Reid impressed.
“He is still coaching his tail off and he has still got young players there that he’s developing right now,” Reid said. “So, I think he’s doing a heck of a job. Sometimes you’re dealt a hand where you get injured at key positions, and that has happened. The things that he has done with those guys that he has got there, I think is something special.”
Right tackle Jah Reid, who spent four seasons in Baltimore before signing a free-agent deal with the Chiefs on Sept. 6, knows the Ravens won’t be an easy foe despite what is on paper.
And a lot of the competiveness level expected Sunday surrounds the culture Harbaugh built.
“They’re going to come out and play hard regardless of their record or who’s playing,” Jah Reid said. “The mentality there is to have a bully mentality, so I know they’re going to come out and play hard and we’re going to do the same.”
The Chiefs’ rendezvous with history waits for the outcome.
TALE OF THE TAPE
• The Chiefs rank seventh in rushing (123.5 yards per game) and 27th in passing (216.8 yards per game).
• The Ravens rank 25th in rushing (92.7 yards per game) and eighth in passing (265.5 yards per game).
• The Chiefs rank seventh against the run (92.2 yards allowed per game) and 15th against the pass (240.9 yards allowed per game).
• The Ravens rank 11th against the run (99.5 yards allowed per game) and 21st against the pass (248.3 yards allowed per game).
THE LAST TIME
The Ravens defeated the Chiefs, 9-6, in Week 5 of the 2012 season at Arrowhead Stadium.
Sunday’s contest marks the seventh time the Chiefs and Ravens will play in the regular season, and the series is tied 3-3. The Chiefs and Ravens met in the AFC Wildcard game on Jan. 9, 2011, with the Ravens coming out on top, 30-7.
The Chiefs are 3-1 at M&T Bank Stadium, while coach Andy Reid is 2-1 in his career against the Ravens.
• Ravens coach John Harbaugh served as a special teams coordinator on Andy Reid’s staff while with the Philadelphia Eagles (1998-07).
• Ravens safety Kendrick Lewis entered the league as a fifth-round pick of the Chiefs in 2010 and spent four seasons in Kanas City (2010-13).
• Ravens tight end Richard Gordon spent the 2013 season and the past two training camps with the Chiefs.
• Ravens wide receivers coach Bobby Engram spent his final NFL season as a player with the with the Chiefs in 2009.
• Chiefs right tackle Jah Reid spent the first four seasons of his career with the Ravens (2011-14).
• Ravens inside linebacker Arthur Brown is a native of Wichita, Kan., and attended Kansas State University.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid using sports writers as an example of why he allows his player personalities to shine:
“If your editor is telling you, you have to keep within these confines here, it’s probably not so good. If he cuts you loose a little bit, you might have a pretty good article that comes out, pretty creative. I think, I question some of you, but I won’t ask any questions.”
Chiefs rookie center Mitch Morse on the offensive linemen potentially watching “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” as a group:
“It will kind of be a fun deal, just a bunch of giant nerds in there geeking out.”
Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub on the long snapping issues of the past two games:
“These guys are professional; they’re the best in the world. Top 32 snappers in the world and you expect it to be perfect.”
Herbie Teope is the lead Chiefs beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and The Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.