Lamar Jackson is hearing his name mentioned in the MVP conversation, but that doesn’t impress him much.
The Baltimore Ravens star is more interested in making a run for the Lombardi Trophy, and his top-seeded AFC team can take a big step in that direction when the Ravens visit the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday night.
Baltimore (10-3) holds a one-game lead over the Miami Dolphins at the top of the conference. There are nine scenarios in which the Ravens can clinch a playoff spot Sunday should they defeat the Jaguars (8-5).
Linebacker Patrick Queen is one of many Baltimore players eyeing the top seed and first-round bye, especially with the Ravens winning three straight games and seven of their past eight.
“We want it bad,” Queen said. “If we don’t get it, we make the playoffs. We’re still in there.”
Jackson was the NFL MVP in 2019 and appreciates the praise for his 2023 individual season, which includes 2,934 passing yards and 16 touchdown throws. He also has 644 yards and five scores on the ground.
But Baltimore hasn’t won a playoff game since the 2020 season, and Jackson is focused on changing that.
“It’s an honor just being acknowledged — to be in the conversation with great guys,” Jackson said. “But I’m just trying to stay locked in trying to win, because I want (the Lombardi) trophy.”
Jackson is coming off a superb performance in which he passed for 316 yards and three touchdowns and tacked on 70 rushing yards in last week’s 37-31 overtime home win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Baltimore won that contest on a 76-yard punt-return score by Tylan Wallace. The third-year-pro was only handling the duties because two-time Pro Bowl selection Devin Duvernay injured his back earlier in the season.
Duvernay was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, and Wallace now will be the team’s main returner.
Jacksonville will look to end a two-game slide in which it lost to the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns by a combined seven points.
The Jaguars have seen their lead in the AFC South shrink to one game over the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans. But Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence said he’s not concerned.
“We’re in a fine position, record-wise,” Lawrence said. “We have to take care of business this week and moving forward. We have to take it one week at time. We need to get back on track this week for sure.”
Lawrence has been dealing with a high ankle sprain sustained against the Bengals on Dec. 4. He was questionable for last week’s game against the Browns before playing and getting mixed results — 257 passing yards and three touchdowns but also throwing three interceptions.
He practiced in full on Wednesday and said he’s making progress.
“It’s feeling better. Thankfully, I made out of the game pretty clean,” Lawrence said. “I didn’t re-aggravate it anymore. I’m just trying to keep getting better every day; hopefully it feels even better this week. I was able to move around decent on Sunday, so that was positive.”
As per containing Jackson, the Jaguars rank fourth in the NFL in rushing defense at 92.2 yards per game.
Jacksonville also features two standouts. Pass rusher Josh Allen is tied for third in the NFL with 13.5 sacks, and linebacker Foyesade Oluokun ranks second in tackles with 138. Oluokun led the league in tackles each of the past two seasons.
Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith is tied for third with 136 tackles, while safety Geno Stone is second with six interceptions.
Baltimore safety Kyle Hamilton (knee) was injured against the Rams but was a limited practice participant on Wednesday. Smith (back) also was limited.
For Jacksonville, safety Andre Cisco (groin) and cornerback Tyson Campbell (quadriceps) didn’t practice. Cisco was hurt against the Browns while Campbell missed the contest.
The Jaguars notched a dramatic 28-27 home win over the Ravens last season. Lawrence tossed a 10-yard scoring pass to since-departed Marvin Jones with 14 seconds left, followed by a winning two-point conversion pass to Zay Jones.
–Field Level Media