Ravens Roll One Step Closer To AFC Top Seed
In what is likely an MVP season, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson had a career night against the New York Jets on Thursday evening.
In addition to throwing a career-high five touchdown passes, Jackson ran himself into the NFL record books with eight rushing attempts for 86 yards. With that performance, Jackson surpassed the single-season quarterback rushing record previously held by Michael Vick.
Vick rushed for 1,039 yards with Atlanta in 2006. On Thursday Night Football, Jackson raised his rushing total to 1,108 yards.
By the end of the evening, Jackson had completed 15 of 23 passes for 212 yards and five touchdowns on top of his record-setting performance on the ground.
Five different Baltimore receivers caught a touchdown pass, but no Raven had more than 66 receiving yards. However, the Jets simply couldn’t keep up.
New York quarterback Sam Darnold threw for 218 yards with one interception and two touchdowns, both of which went to Jamison Crowder. Crowder would finish with six catches for 90 yards.
Even Le’Veon Bell got it going, rushing for 87 yards on 21 carries. Yet this contest was never in question after the Ravens jumped out to a 13-point lead in the first quarter. In the end, Baltimore earned a comfortable 42-21 victory.
Baltimore One Win Away From Top Seed
Although the night belonged to Jackson, it was a massive win for the Baltimore team as a whole.
Only four days after clinching a playoff berth, a win over the Jets on Thursday Night Football earned Baltimore the AFC North title. At 12-2, the Ravens are now uncatchable by the 8-5 Pittsburgh Steelers.
Yet after the win, the Ravens made it clear that winning the division is only the beginning of what they want to accomplish. Of winning the AFC North, coach John Harbaugh said, “It’s our first goal. Not our top goal.”
Several of his players echoed the same sentiment, and it appears everyone in Baltimore is now focused on reaching another Super Bowl. And they’ll take a huge leap towards that goal if they get the job done next week in Cleveland.
With a win over the Browns, the Ravens will move to 13-2 and earn a bye week and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs by clinching the conference’s top seed. That would be a huge blow to the other contenders in the AFC, considering the likes of New England already had a shot at the Ravens in Baltimore and fell by a score of 37-20.
And although Kansas City managed to beat the Ravens by five early in the year, that game was played at Arrowhead.
Baltimore is now riding a 10-game winning streak that includes wins over the Seahawks, Patriots, Texans, and 49ers, and it only appears to be picking up more momentum.
Is Baltimore A Lock For The Super Bowl?
Since beginning its winning streak with an overtime victory over Pittsburgh, the toughest competition Baltimore has faced has come from San Francisco, which doesn’t even play in the AFC.
And it’s beginning to look like the Ravens may not be challenged again until they play their next NFC opponent in the Super Bowl.
As a team likely to have the advantage of hosting every opponent it faces in the AFC playoffs, let’s see just how big a favorite Baltimore is right now.
Although the Ravens look like the best team in the conference by a wide margin, the odds don’t necessarily say Baltimore is a lock to reach the Super Bowl. At this point, the AFC is a three-team race.
With odds of -110, the Ravens are the favorite to win the conference. But the Patriots and Chiefs are both hot on their heels.
Despite losing to Kansas City last week, New England is second on the list with odds of +260. Next up are the Chiefs and their +450 odds of winning the AFC.
After that trio, no team has better odds than the +2100 of Buffalo.
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