QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens not taking the 'they're the No. 1 team ... bait'

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens revealed that they cared just a little about being perceived as the underdogs going into their game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

The quarterback relished the tag, while other teammates said they felt disrespected.

A few days after beating the 49ers, on the road, by two touchdowns, the Ravens have done a complete 180 with that sentiment. Baltimore absolutely doesn't care that analysts and observers are now crowning them the best team in the NFL.

At 12-3, the Ravens own the best record in the league and can clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Even with all that being the case, Baltimore is treating every game moving forward as if it's the underdog.

"I believe we've got a bunch of guys who've been doubted, a bunch of guys who've got things to prove — on our team — on both sides of the ball," Jackson said on Wednesday. "So, I believe, anytime we're the underdogs, we're going to always rise to the occasion. But we've got to stay locked in to do that."

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson looks for a receiver against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 25, 2023, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and his teammates said they're ignoring the outside noise around how good the team is. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

With the Ravens' 33-19 victory over San Francisco — Baltimore's seventh two-touchdown victory over a winning team this season — the AFC frontrunner moved atop most reputable outlets' NFL power rankings.

This coming only a week after the 49ers were considered almost a touchdown favorite over the visitors and quarterback Brock Purdy was the betting favorite in the MVP race.

All of that has flipped in the days since as Jackson is now considered the leader in the MVP race, with San Francisco running back Christian McCaffrey trailing behind him.

None of this, according to Jackson, means anything. This postseason is about one thing only — and that's not an individual award that Jackson has already won.

"Keeping a level head is the most important thing for us right now, because now the narrative is changing," Jackson. "It was just, 'This team is ... the Ravens; we don't know about the Ravens.' Now it's, 'Oh, they're the No. 1 team.' So, we're not paying [any] mind to that. I feel like that's bait — that's clickbait. And like I said, we're trying to make it to February, so we're going to take it a game at a time."