MVP favorite Lamar Jackson will sit in Week 18; Ravens to start Tyler Huntley vs. Steelers

The Baltimore Ravens have a bye in the first round of the playoffs, and head coach John Harbaugh is giving star QB Lamar Jackson an extra week to rest up.

Harbaugh announced Wednesday that Jackson will not play in the Ravens' regular-season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 18. Backup Tyler Huntley will start instead.

This was likely an easy decision for Harbaugh. The Ravens have locked up the bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, so there's no need to risk the likely MVP's health on a game that is meaningless as far as the playoffs are concerned. This will allow Jackson to get 19 total days of rest before he plays his next game.

Jackson is far from the only starting quarterback who will be riding the bench this weekend. The San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams, both playoff teams, will be sending their backups out when they face off Sunday. Sam Darnold will play for the 49ers while Brock Purdy sits, and Carson Wentz will start in place of Matthew Stafford for the Rams.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 31: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins during the second half of the game at M&T Bank Stadium on December 31, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)
Ravens QB and likely MVP Lamar Jackson won't play against the Steelers in Week 18. (Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images)

Two other playoff teams are also resting their starters: The Cleveland Browns will rest Joe Flacco (Jeff Driskel will start instead), and the Kansas City Chiefs will rest Patrick Mahomes (Blaine Gabbert will start).

While the Ravens have nothing meaningful to play for as far as football is concerned, the Steelers are fighting for a playoff spot. They're in a must-win position, so they're probably thrilled that they'll be facing a Ravens team sitting its star quarterback and MVP favorite.