Ravens' chief problem will haunt them until the postseason

After Monday's deflating 34-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Baltimore Ravens acknowledged they're essentially in a no-win situation with the football world for the next three months.

The Ravens can rebound and dominate their remaining 13 regular-season games -- they're favored in every single one -- but they can't provide answers to the biggest questions facing this team now until January.

Baltimore can record double-digit victories and capture the AFC North for a third straight year. But can the Ravens win in the playoffs?

Baltimore can beat the likes of the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans in the upcoming weeks. But can the Ravens ever beat the Chiefs?

Fair or unfair, skepticism will hang over the Ravens' heads like another high-arcing Patrick Mahomes touchdown pass.

"We get to prove to everybody who’s going to doubt us next, who we are [and] what we’re capable of," cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "But until we do it against that team (the Chiefs), it’s going to kind of go unnoticed."

The Ravens don't have to prove they can win big games. Baltimore went 5-1 against playoff teams last season, defeating the Seahawks by 14 points in Seattle, crushing the previously undefeated New England Patriots by 17 points in prime time and outlasting Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco by a field goal.

The uncertainty is how Baltimore can defeat Kansas City after losses in three straight seasons. Take away their games against the Chiefs, and the Ravens' resume suggests they're the second-best team in the NFL. Baltimore just isn't in Kansas City's class when lining up on the same field.

Doubts over whether the Ravens can upend the Chiefs have only increased. Baltimore lost a late lead in Kansas City in 2018 and then struggled early against the Chiefs in 2019 before making a comeback that fell short. On Monday night, the Ravens didn't score an offensive touchdown in the first three quarters and allowed 517 yards to Mahomes and the Chiefs.

“They didn’t give that guy a half a billion dollars for no reason," defensive end Calais Campbell said of Mahomes. "I’m really looking forward to earning the right to try to face them again, because I’m very confident that if we play the game we’re supposed to, we can hang with those guys."

The Ravens were supposed to hang with the Chiefs this year after the strides they made this offseason. But a revamped front seven failed to sack Mahomes on 42 pass attempts. Quarterback Lamar Jackson failed to stretch the field, going 0-for-5 on passes that traveled at least 15 yards in the air. The offensive line failed to protect Jackson with a 35.7% pass-block win rate (21st in the NFL in Week 3).

“I’m not discouraged. I don’t think we’re discouraged at all," Smith said. "I think the good thing about playing a team that is just hitting on all cylinders right now is they can show you where we’re weak at, and they did. So, we get the chance to go back and fix it."

Rebounding shouldn't be an issue for Baltimore. The Ravens reeled off 12 straight wins last season after losing back-to-back games in September.

Baltimore's remaining schedule is a favorable one. It ranks as the second easiest behind the Dallas Cowboys and features the likes of Washington, the New York Giants, Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars.

"This is going to be a learning lesson for everybody who’s young on this team -- to face a team like that, a champion on our home field, and they came out and played way better than us," Smith said. "It’s just one game; it’s not the Super Bowl."

If the Ravens want to get to the Super Bowl, they'll likely have to figure out how to beat the Chiefs.