The NFL is a league built on rivalries. From the early days of the Chicago Bears battles with the Green Bay Packers to the classic NFC East clashes between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys, important games always feel large in the identity of the NFL. While older rivalries still exist in the new NFL, another rivalry has slowly emerged over the past two seasons. Behind two sensational quarterbacks, the Baltimore Ravens–Kansas City Chiefs rivalry might be the most exciting rivalry in the NFL today. The teams do not play within the same division, but the prevalence of Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes makes every game between the two a must-watch. The two quarterbacks have won the past two NFL MVP awards and are both still under the ages of 26. Whether it’s becoming the youngest player to do X or the first player to do Y, there is no denying the uniqueness of the two players.
However, to this point in the young rivalry, Jackson is yet to get his first victory. The teams have played just twice with both quarterbacks at the helms but the Chiefs hold a 2-0 advantage. Each of their previous games has been decided by just one score each. In 2020, the teams should once again be very evenly matched and will be putting their undefeated records on the line against maybe the toughest opponent each team will play this season.
Football is a team game but with Jackson and Mahomes continually being compared to each other as two of the biggest faces of the modern NFL, Jackson would likely love to get a win for himself in this series. Monday night’s game will be Jackson’s third standoff with Mahomes and a victory would mean a lot in the context of the rivalry.
A Lamar Jackson Win Over the Chiefs Would Mean a lot
There Aren’t a Lot of Teams Jackson Has Yet To Beat
Despite entering his third season of NFL action in 2020, Lamar Jackson is still a very young quarterback. At just 23 years old, there are currently only five other starting quarterbacks that are younger than Jackson in the NFL. One of which, Joe Burrow, was the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Jackson was selected 32nd-overall by the Ravens in 2018.
Jackson has an incredibly impressive record as a starter for his age. Over his 26 starts in the NFL, he currently sits at 21-5 — with the bulk of the wins coming during the Ravens outrageous 12-game winning streak to end the 2019 regular season. 21 wins isn’t a huge number in the grand scheme of things, but Jackson has beat a number of very accomplished quarterbacks less than three years into his career. Last Sunday’s victory was his second time beating DeShaun Watson by more than two scores and he has also defeated the likes of Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers, and Matt Ryan.
Lamar Jackson has only been beaten by four teams. Kansas City is the only team of the four to have beaten him twice. The Ravens quarterback has been impressive in both games, contributing 527 yards of total offense, three touchdowns, and just one turnover, but Jackson has made it known that winning it all is his ultimate goal. If the Ravens and Jackson are to make a run at the Super Bowl, they will have to show they can beat the Chiefs because there’s a good chance they will see each other in the playoffs at some time in the near future.
It isn’t a true rivalry if the score is heavily in one team’s favor. Mahomes is the league standard at his position and a victory Week 3 would leave the Tennessee Titans as the only team Jackson has faced and not lost to.
Lamar Jackson Can Continue His Primetime Dominance
In the NFL, events are amplified when the lights are their brightest. Odell Beckham Jr.‘s one-handed grab against the Cowboys and Antonio Freeman finding the ball on his back before running it in for the game-winning touchdown in overtime are just two of the examples of the events that can define a career during Monday Night Primetime. Mahomes’s most memorable Monday Night game was perhaps the most exciting game of the past decade. The Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams played a crazy-high scoring 54-51 Monday Night classic Week 11 of 2018 that saw the Chiefs quarterback become the youngest quarterback to ever throw six touchdowns in a game.
Some players just give their best efforts when all the cameras are on them and Jackson is slowly becoming one of the great primetime performers in the NFL. The Ravens quarterback currently holds a 4-0 record in the primetime games in the regular season with each win coming by 12 points or more. His line in those four games is pretty good too. In Jackson’s four primetime games, he has a completion percentage of 67%, 748 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, 281 rushing yards, a passer rating in each game of over 101.0, and has never turned the ball over. He also became the first player to throw for five touchdowns – Week 12 against the Rams.- in a Monday Night debut last season.
Jackson is simply brilliant when the spotlight is on him. Adding to his already impressive resume seems inevitable at this point but nothing would add to his legend more than a win over the defending Super Bowl champions. He has shown no signs of slowing down through his first two games in 2020 and should put on another memorable performance against the Chiefs.
Jackson Has To Keep Pace With Mahomes
What makes a matchup between Mahomes and Jackson so enticing is that there’s the potential to see something that has never happened before. Whether it’s no-look passes or ankle-breaking runs, both quarterbacks are known for their incredibly flashy plays. The allure of never knowing what you’re going to see on any given play is impressive but each has set a number of records despite being so young.
Specifically for Jackson, his most notable accomplishment is earning just the second unanimous MVP in NFL history on the heels of becoming the first quarterback ever to throw for over 3,000 yards and rush for over 1,000 yards. He smashed Michael Vick‘s single-season rushing record by over 100 yards despite playing only 971 snaps while also becoming the first player to break the 1,000-yard rushing mark and throw over 30 touchdowns in the same season. His 2019 season was astounding but he has still yet to carry over his regular-season success to the playoffs.
Mahomes’ first season as a full-time starter in 2018 was similar to Jackson’s. His 2018 season was historic from a passing standpoint and has left Mahomes with a number of records. During that season, Mahomes became the youngest quarterback to throw for six touchdowns in a game, the first quarterback to throw for 3,000 passing yards in his first 10 games, and set the record for the most consecutive games with 300+ yards. He ended up losing in the AFC Championship game to the New England Patriots that season but rebounded in 2019 – Jackson’s MVP year – to win his first Super Bowl. The Chiefs trailed in every game but became the first team NFL history to erase double-digit deficits in each playoff game (three times) they played on route to a Super Bowl.
While Jackson doesn’t have to have a run like Mahomes did, he needs to continue to beat good teams. Beating Mahomes on Monday night would be debatably the best win of his career and would, hopefully, give him the confidence to get over the hump and get his first playoff win when January rolls around.
Monday Night Chiefs at Ravens Prediction
Considering the form the Ravens are in and the primetime ability Lamar Jackson has displayed, the Ravens should be the favorite to win the third installment of Mahomes vs. Jackson. Baltimore has picked up right where they left off in 2019 and has dropped 33+ points in each of their first two games this season while boasting the NFL’s fourth-ranked total defense. Jackson’s arm looks to be getting even more accurate as well. The Chiefs are a tremendously talented team but have given up an average of 419.5 yards on defense their first two games and have not even come close to facing an offense like the Ravens.
Monday Night’s game should be another classic between the young Mahomes and Jackson and no matter the result, could be a potential preview of the 2021 AFC Championship Game.
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