Riding a nine-game winning streak, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are set to host the New York Jets on “Thursday Night Football.”
This game provides Jackson and Co. with several different clinching scenarios heading down the stretch of the regular season. Meanwhile, the young Jets are looking to finish strong with a statement victory in Baltimore.
Here, we look at five things you simply must know for the second-to-final “Thursday Night Football” game of the 2019 season.
Lamar Jackson’s injury
The NFL MVP favorite showed up on the injury report this week with a quad issue. He’s officially listed as questionable to go, but has already said he’ll take to the field Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium. That’s good news for the Ravens as they look to extend their winning streak to 10 games.
With that said, there should be some concern here. Jackson is the engine that makes this No. 1-ranked scoring offense go. With just a few weeks until the start of the playoffs, they can’t afford for him to aggravate the injury or suffer a more serious one. That’s something to watch.
Jackson, 22, has been absolutely brilliant as a sophomore. He heads into Week 15 having accounted for nearly 3,700 total yards with 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions. It will be interesting to see if Jackson looks 100% to open the game.
It would not be a season of New York Jets football without some drama. That now includes free-agent bust Le’Veon Bell potentially being one-and-done in Jersey. Rumors suggest that the Jets will look to trade the former All-Pro, who is averaging a career-low 3.2 yards per rush this season.
Adding to the intrigue here, Bell missed last week’s outing with the flu and was seen bowling a little bit later. Is he all in as the Jets finish up what has been another lost season?
If that weren’t enough, New York’s brass has indicated that Adam Gase will return for a second season as the team’s head coach. He’s been the subject of major criticism from the fans and media. Would a blowout loss on national television change this thought process from the Jets’ brass perspective?
Ravens have some clinching scenarios
Having already clinched a spot in the postseason, Baltimore turns its attention to the AFC North title, a first-round bye and potential home-field advantage in the conference. All three can potentially come to fruition in Week 15.
- Baltimore clinches the division with a win Thursday night or a Steelers loss to the Bills Sunday night.
- The team can clinch a first-round bye with a win and either a Patriots loss to the Bengals or Chiefs defeat at the hands of the Broncos.
- Lastly, Baltimore can clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win and losses by both the Chiefs and Patriots.
The likeliest scenario here is that Baltimore wraps up the AFC North Thursday evening and watches Denver somehow take out Kansas City to give the team a first-round bye.
Sam Darnold looks to continue solid stretch
One saving grace for the 5-8 Jets is that Darnold has picked it up big time after dealing with numerous injuries and health issues earlier in the season.
|2019 Stats||Comp %||Yards||TD||INT||QB Rating|
|First 5 games||63.2||1,077||6||9||70.5|
|Past 5 games||61.3||1,347||9||2||98.1|
The Jets are going to be building around Darnold for the foreseeable future. They want to see him continue to improve heading into his third season.
He has a great opportunity to start this final three-game stretch with a bang and an upset win over the 11-2 Ravens in front of a national audience.
The betting line
Baltimore heads into Thursday night as 16-point favorites. It’s the largest spread of the Week 15 slate. This comes after the Ravens defeated their past two opponents by a combined 10 points. That came against the 49ers (11-3) and Bills (9-4).
Prior to that two-game stretch, the Ravens took out the Patriots, Bengals, Texans and Rams by an average margin of victory of 31.5 points. They are also outscoring their opponents at home by an average margin of 16.5 points this season.
While the 16-point spread remains high and Jackson’s injury is concerning, we’d go with the Ravens covering here.