NFL Playoff Preview: Ravens enter playoffs without QB Lamar Jackson

by Jacob Fuller

Rob Issa, FISM News

The Baltimore Ravens will have to advance in the NFL playoffs without Lamar Jackson.

The star quarterback, who was the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2019, has missed the last five games with a knee injury that has kept him from practicing. He updated his status in a Twitter post on Thursday, saying he has a “grade 2 sprain on the borderline of” a grade 3 sprain. Jackson also said he has inflammation around the knee, and it remains unstable.

The Ravens (10-7) visit the Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) on Sunday night. Jackson’s post strongly indicates he won’t play in that game but he didn’t make it clear.

“Thank you everyone for your support and concerns regarding my injuries. I want to give you all an update as I am in the recovery process,” Jackson tweeted. “I’ve suffered a PCL grade 2 sprain on the borderline of a strain 3. There is still inflammation surrounding my knee and my knee remains unstable.

“I’m still in good spirits, as I continue with treatments on the road to recovery. I wish I could be out there with my guys more than anything but I can’t give a 100% of myself to my guys and fans I’m still hopeful we still have a chance.”

Backup QB Tyler Huntley returned to practice for the Ravens on Thursday. Huntley is dealing with right shoulder and wrist injuries.

The Ravens are 2-3 without Jackson. Rookie Anthony Brown made his first NFL start last week in a loss to the Bengals. He threw for 286 yards but was intercepted twice and fumbled in his own end zone resulting in a touchdown for Cincinnati.

“There’s so much trust in both of them, and that’s with everybody on the team,” tight end Mark Andrews said. “Whoever it may be, we’re going to be alright.”

49ERS HOST SEAHAWKS

The NFL playoffs kick off Saturday in San Francisco with the 49ers hosting the Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers have won 10 straight games and are seeking their third win over the Seahawks this season.

“I don’t really look at it as you have to beat someone three times. I just look at it as we have to beat them on Saturday,” coach Kyle Shanahan said. “That’s the game, I don’t think the other games have to do with it.”

CHARGERS TRAVEL TO JACKSONVILLE

On Saturday night, the Los Angeles Chargers face the Jaguars in Jacksonville. The Jaguars won their last five games to win the AFC South. They dominated the Chargers in a 38-10 win in September.

BILLS HOST DOLPHINS

The Buffalo Bills are home against the Miami Dolphins to start Sunday’s action. The Bills are playing for Damar Hamlin, who is recovering at home less than two weeks after collapsing on the field and needing to be resuscitated.

The teams split their regular-season meetings, each winning at home. The Dolphins might be down to third-string QB Skylar Thompson because of injuries to Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater.

GIANTS AT VIKINGS

The New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings play again Saturday afternoon after facing off on Christmas Eve. The Vikings won that game on a last-second 61-yard field goal. Minnesota is 11-0 in one-score games this season.

“NFL stands for ‘not for long,’ and people move on. I kind of felt like this is a special group, and there’s a time sensitivity here where we’ve got to do it now,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said.

BUCCANEERS HOST COWBOYS

On Monday night, the wild-card weekend wraps up with the Dallas Cowboys taking on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Cowboys won 12 games to only eight wins for Tampa Bay this season. However, Dallas has struggled in recent weeks, while Brady and Mike Evans recaptured their magic in a win against Carolina late in the season. Tampa Bay will host the game due to winning the NFC South.

“Everyone works hard to get to this point. There’s no more second chances,” said Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion. “It’s going to be hard, but we’re battle tested. We’ve had some tough games. Some we came back from. Some we haven’t. But … close won’t be good enough going forward for anybody.”

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