Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

The Baltimore Ravens (11-3) cruised to a 23-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars (8-6) on “Sunday Night Football.” Here are three takeaways from the Ravens playoff-clinching win: 

Ravens defense setting the tone: Baltimore’s unit showed up against the Jaguars, holding an opponent to a touchdown or less for the ninth time this season. Behind big games from their playmakers, they frustrated QB Trevor Lawrence all evening. 

Safety Kyle Hamilton was a constant disruption playing on a sprained MCL, finishing with a team-high seven tackles (one for loss) and a crucial pass-breakup late to deny Jacksonville a touchdown. 

Meanwhile, defensive tackle Justin Madubuike tied an NFL mark by posting at least a half sack in 11 straight games. He recorded his 12th sack of the season with four QB hits and a forced fumble in the Ravens’ victory. 

The Ravens D showed they can carry the load at times, but if they want a shot at the No. 1 seed in the AFC, the unit will have to play more like it did on Sunday moving forward. 

Closing out the season, the Ravens will take on two juggernauts in the San Francisco 49ers (11-3) and Miami Dolphins (10-4) over the last three weeks. 

Lamar Jackson making an MVP case?: Jackson’s numbers aren’t on par with the favorites for MVP, but it’s hard to argue his importance to the Ravens. He wasn’t the main reason they walked away winners on Sunday night, but it’s hard to imagine them winning the game without him. 

Under duress for most of the game, Jackson made something out of nothing countless times, keeping drives alive while demoralizing a befuddled Jaguars defense. He showcased his impact even without the flashiest stat line, finishing 14-of-24 for 171 yards (7.1 YPC) with a touchdown and an interception through the air while adding 97 rushing yards off 12 carries (8.1 YPA) 

The MVP usually comes down to who has the best stats, but wins should matter, too. In that regard, Jackson has the Ravens leading the AFC North at 11-3 while helping them become the first team in the conference to clinch a playoff spot. If that’s not MVP-worthy stuff, what is?

Jaguars slide continues: Only a few weeks ago, the Jaguars were 8-3, a shoo-in for the postseason, and a favorite to win the AFC South. My, how things have changed. 

Following their loss on Sunday night, they’re now in a three-way tie with the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans for the division lead, and a playoff berth is no longer a given. Having dropped three straight games, they’re going backward and have no one to blame but themselves. 

After losing their previous two games by a combined seven points, the Jaguars got in their own way again versus the Ravens. Finishing with only seven points, the Jaguars missed two field goals, and QB Trevor Lawrence lost two fumbles, including one inside the red zone. 

Far removed from a five-game winning streak in October, the Jaguars head into the season’s final three weeks likely needing to win out against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7), Carolina Panthers (2-12) and Tennessee Titans (5-9) to save their year. 

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