Ravens clinch AFC North title, and likely MVP for Lamar Jackson, in rout of Jets

Jack BaerWriter
Yahoo Sports

The Baltimore Ravens clinched their sixth AFC North title in franchise history with a Thursday Night Football win over the New York Jets. Like he’s done all season, Lamar Jackson showed exactly why we should be expecting even more from 2019’s breakout team.

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Breaking records on the ground and through the air, Jackson flambéed the Jets defense to carry his team to a 42-21 win on a night in which the defense and special teams had their struggles.

Jackson racked up 212 passing yards on 15-of-23 passing with five touchdowns, his third such game of the season. He also pitched in 86 rushing yards on eight attempts to break Michael Vick’s single-season QB rushing record.

That more than made up for a Ravens defense that allowed a number of long drives in the first half and a special teams unit that missed an extra point, allowed a touchdown on a blocked punt and regularly gave the Jets decent field position.

Those special teams struggles played a role in one of the night’s definitive moments, when Jackson outright rejected the punt team coming onto the field on fourth-and-1 in his territory. Half a minute later, he threw a 36-yard pass to Mark Andrews to continue yet another touchdown drive.

The win improves the Ravens’ record to an AFC-leading 12-2, and cements an enviable position for the team in the final two weeks of the season.

Lamar Jackson is your presumptive NFL MVP

Jackson now sits at a league-leading 33 passing touchdowns on the season, and it feels like it’s officially time to close the books on the 2019 MVP race.

Entering the season as an explosive talent with a few things to work on, Jackson has emerged as the most exciting player in the league, and possibly all of sports. He has destroyed teams as a passer, humiliated them as a runner and set social media on fire week in and week out.

It was just another day at the office for Lamar Jackson. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
It was just another day at the office for Lamar Jackson. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Unless Russell Wilson goes on the greatest three-game run in football history, it’s hard to see him touching Jackson’s production and outright control over the narrative of the season. Jackson is breaking records, blowing teams out and marching to the No. 1 seed in the AFC in the process.

What’s left for the Ravens in the regular season

With the AFC North officially clinched over the 8-5 Pittsburgh Steelers, all that’s left for the Ravens to do is seal a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

The Ravens could possibly clinch both this week if the 10-3 New England Patriots (whom the Ravens hold the tiebreaker over) and 9-4 Kansas City Chiefs (who hold the tiebreaker over the Ravens) both lose, but that seems quite unlikely given their opponents. The Patriots will be facing the Cincinnati Bengals while the Chiefs take on the Denver Broncos.

A win over the Cleveland Browns next week would still hand the Ravens the No. 1 seed. That would give them the chance to sit their starters as much as they want against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17. After that, the appointment viewing that is Lamar Jackson in the playoffs begins.

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