Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson insists recent history will count for nothing on Sunday as he attempts to break his duck against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in a clash of former NFL MVPs.
Jackson, the 2019 MVP, has never got the better of Mahomes in three encounters with the Chiefs since 2018, with last season’s 34-20 defeat prompting Jackson to describe Kansas City as “our kryptonite.”
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“I said that because they did beat us three times,” Jackson said. “So it’s like, ‘Man, we’ve got to find a way to win.’ And hopefully this Sunday night coming up it will be different.”
In his three duels with Mahomes, Jackson has been significantly out-performed by his Chiefs counterpart.
In last season’s instalment, Mahomes threw for 385 yards while Jackson managed just 97.
Jackson, however, maintains he does not see himself as being engaged in a personal rivalry with Mahomes.
“It’s not about me and Mahomes – not to me, probably to everyone else,” Jackson said. “It’s the Ravens vs. the Kansas City Chiefs. They did beat us three times but that’s in the past.
“We have a better opportunity this time to come around, and we’ll take the advantage and win at our home stadium. I’m not dwelling on the losses; come Sunday night, we’re going to play.”
– ‘Definite’ rivalry –
Whatever Jackson’s protestations, team-mate Sammy Watkins is less convinced. The Ravens receiver, who spent three seasons at the Chiefs before joining Baltimore this year, is in no doubt the two quarterbacks see themselves as rivals.
“Those guys definitely view it that way,” Watkins said. “You can say you’re not, but the world is watching two of the best, youngest MVPs in the league and very talented guys.”
Jackson is looking to bounce back from a disappointing season-opening defeat to the Las Vegas Raiders in Nevada on Monday. A fumble from the Ravens quarterback in a crucial passage of play ultimately gave the Raiders the chance to snatch victory in overtime.
Mahomes, meanwhile, opened his season in familiar fashion, engineering a fourth quarter rally to lead the Chiefs to a 33-29 win over Cleveland last Sunday.
The 26-year-old quarterback wants the Chiefs to ride momentum from that win into Sunday’s game in Baltimore.
“When two good teams play each other, there’s always going to be a lot of hype and a lot of build-up,” Mahomes said of his rivalry with Jackson.
“Seeing Lamar and all the success that he’s had with that team, you know its two of the top teams in the AFC.
“We’re going to have to battle every year it seems like or in the playoffs or whenever it is.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of momentum coming in throughout the week when you play teams like this.”
– Falcons ready for Brady –
Elsewhere on Sunday, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons looking to make it two wins out of two.
It is another chance for Brady to exert his psychological hold over the Falcons. Brady famously engineered the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history against Atlanta in 2017 when he led the New England Patriots back from a 28-3 deficit to take the title.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan says Atlanta have moved on from that agonising defeat four years ago.
“You know, it’s one of those things. It’s part of your past, it’s part of what happened,” Ryan said. “But it’s got no bearing on this week.”
The Dallas Cowboys, meanwhile, will look to bounce back from their opening loss to Tampa Bay when they head to Los Angeles to face the Chargers.
The Chargers opened with a gritty 20-16 road win over Washington last weekend, and will hope their defense can shut down a Cowboys offense led by Dak Prescott which put 451 yards in a losing effort against the Bucs.
In the Monday night game, the Detroit Lions will brace for a response from Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Packers quarterback Rodgers suffered the heaviest loss of his career — as well as the indignity of being hooked from the game — in the Packers’ 38-3 mauling by the New Orleans Saints last weekend.
The scale of that drubbing raised more than a few eyebrows across the NFL, but Rodgers is adamant the Packers do not require major changes.
“There shouldn’t be some big drastic change and alteration to the way we do things, the way we practice, the way we prepare,” Rodgers said.
“Obviously, we got to play better. But if we’re starting to freak out after one week, we’re in big trouble.”