Rookie Lamar Jackson has the Baltimore Ravens in playoff place after guiding the membership to a few consecutive victories in his first three NFL begins.
But whereas Jackson continues to point out he might be the franchise’s quarterback of the long run, he’ll get a firsthand glimpse of the brand new customary bearer at his place when the Ravens go to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs on Sunday afternoon.
The Chiefs (10-2) personal the most effective file within the AFC and maintain the within monitor for home-field benefit all through the AFC playoffs because of second-year quarterback Mahomes, who has an opportunity to affix some lofty firm when he faces the resurgent Ravens.
Mahomes wants 77 passing yards Sunday to turn into the third first- or second-year quarterback to throw for a minimum of 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in a season. The others to perform the feat had been Professional Soccer Corridor of Famers Dan Marino and Kurt Warner.
Kansas Metropolis is averaging a league-high 37 factors and its solely losses have been a pair of three-point defeats on the highway in opposition to a pair of division leaders within the New England Patriots (43-40) and the Los Angeles Rams (54-51).
Baltimore (7-5), in the meantime, options the NFL’s top-ranked protection, permitting league lows in factors (17.7) and complete yards (281.7). The Ravens are holding down the sixth and ultimate seed within the AFC, however 4 groups are one sport again so the gamers can’t afford to get caught up within the statistical matchup in opposition to the Chiefs.
“We’re simply making an attempt to present our crew the most effective probability to win and play nice protection,” Baltimore security Eric Weddle stated. “We simply need to be essentially sound, play nice method, talk, play our guidelines and do not get enamored with the formations, with the shifts, with the completely different performs that they could do. Simply play our sport, do what we do greatest, and let the chips fall the place they be.”
Enter Jackson. Though Joe Flacco continues to point out progress from a hip harm that has sidelined him for the previous three video games, the Ravens are anticipated to stay with Jackson, the previous Heisman Trophy winner from Louisville who supplies an added dimension to the offense by dashing for 265 yards and two touchdowns in his three begins.
“He is as quick as a large receiver, can run like a operating again and may throw like a quarterback,” Chiefs head coach Any Reid stated. “You must be sure to cowl these areas. That is onerous to duplicate out at apply, however you do the most effective you’ll be able to and go along with it. He is distinctive.”
The Ravens’ operating sport has additionally thrived with Jackson beginning, averaging 239 yards per sport. Baltimore has dominated time of possession, which has stored opposing offenses off the sphere and its personal protection contemporary. That shall be important in opposition to Mahomes and Kansas Metropolis’s quick-strike offense.
“It might be very useful if we may try this, clearly,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh stated. “They will rating in quite a lot of methods in a short time, so time of possession could be very useful for us.”
Though Jackson earned his first highway win final week in Atlanta, the mixed file of the three groups (Cincinnati, Oakland and the Falcons) is 11-25. Making an attempt to maintain up with Mahomes and Kansas Metropolis at one of many league’s most raucous venues presents a extra daunting problem.
“These guys may need to learn my lips typically,” stated Jackson of the anticipated issue of calling performs. “I heard Kansas Metropolis shall be very loud. I will need to do my job, in all probability attempt to communicate up as a lot as I may to these guys. (It’s going to be a) crew effort within the huddle.”
Kansas Metropolis shall be enjoying its second sport for the reason that gorgeous departure of star operating again Kareem Hunt, who was launched previous to final week’s 40-33 win at Oakland after a video surfaced that confirmed him shoving and kicking a lady throughout an altercation in a lodge final February.
Mahomes threw for 295 yards and 4 touchdowns — two to tight finish Travis Kelce — whereas operating again Spencer Ware rushed for 47 yards and a landing on 14 carries instead of Hunt. Ware, who began for Kansas Metropolis in 2016, expects to be higher with a full week of apply.
“Nothing’s modified,” stated Ware. “Make massive performs and rating touchdowns. Win video games. Win video games. Second effort goes a good distance. Simply struggle for each other.”