OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens can send a message to the rest of the NFL by beating Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football.
On Thursday, Jackson’s statement was this: “It’s just like any other game.”
During his 10-minute media session with reporters, Jackson downplayed Monday’s game, which is a showdown of the two hottest teams in the league and the last two NFL MVPs.
In fact, this will mark the first matchup in NFL history between former MVPs who are 25 years or younger, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I don’t have to focus on Mahomes,” Jackson said. “I got to focus on their defense. I got focus on scoring. I got to focus on my job and making my offense do our thing.”
When the Ravens play host to the Chiefs, it will feature two teams who hold the two longest active win streaks in the league.
The Ravens have won 14 straight regular-season games, and the Chiefs have won eight consecutive games, including the playoffs. The last two teams to meet on eight-plus game win streaks as 1969, when the Rams (winners of 11 straight) played host to the Vikings (10 straight), according to ESPN Stats & Information.
While many of Jackson’s teammates recognized the significance of this game, Jackson essentially answered questions with a shrug.
How important is it for Jackson to beat the Chiefs after losing the last two meetings? “It’s always a statement,” Jackson said.
Is it too early to think of home-field ramifications from this game? “We’re focusing on winning this game,” he said.
To take the Ravens where you want to go, do you feel you have to eventually beat the Chiefs? “Yeah, eventually.”
For Jackson, Mahomes represents one of the few hurdles in his career. Jackson is 21-3 as a starter in the regular season, with two of his losses coming against Mahomes.
“I don’t think [there’s] any more pressure than [what] Lamar ever puts on himself all the time,” coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s the same Lamar, week in, week out, play in, play out at practice, from meeting to meeting. He’s always excited to play; he’s ready to roll. I don’t believe he looks at it like that; I think he’s looking at it like our offense against their defense; that’s what he’s focusing on, and trying to find a way to put the best performance he can, and put up as many points as he can.”
While Jackson prefers not to hype up the game, others acknowledged that there’s a different feel between the two Super Bowl favorites. Both are listed as 4-to-1 odds, according to Caesars Sportsbook. “It’s a team that we know we need to beat. If we want to be champions, this is one of those teams that you have to get past,” Ravens All-Pro offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley said. “We all understand we can’t afford to make mistakes. We have to be at our best. Anything less will come up with results we had in the past.”