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Lamar Jackson’s play this season has begun to make some analysts and fans backtrack 

Lamar Jackson’s play this season has begun to make some analysts and fans backtrack 

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Lamar Jackson is starting to make people reconsider what they think of him. 

After the Ravens’ 49-13 win over the Bengals on Sunday, the rest of the NFL is starting to take notice about Lamar Jackson’s status in the NFL. Especially considering his spin move through the Bengals defense.

Hall of Fame NFL general manager Bill Polian recently admitted that he was wrong when he said that Jackson should be an NFL wide receiver during his draft process in 2018.

“I was wrong, because I used the old, traditional quarterback standard with him, which is clearly why John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome were more prescient than I was,” Polian told USA TODAY Sports. 

Jackson is currently building an MVP case for himself and is on-pace for over 30 touchdowns and nearly 5,000 yards of total offense. 

It’s a nice change of pace for the 22-year-old quarterback in his second year as a pro. Jackson had to face heavy criticism after he left Louisville for a variety of reasons headed into the draft. Even after he took over as the Ravens quarterback, those evaluations persisted. 

“We always knew what he was about,” Ravens center Matt Skura said. “We always knew his ability to make plays and all that stuff. I think it’s just people right now seeing it on a much larger scale and it’s just getting the attention now.”

At this point, however, it’s clear that not only is Jackson a quarterback, he might even be the MVP of the league.

Of the five quarterbacks drafted in the first round of the 2018 Draft, only four are starting and just two have led their teams to a winning record. Jackson leads all of his draft counterparts in total yards and total touchdowns. 

But as anyone in the Ravens’ locker room will say, the accolades don’t concern Jackson — only the record does.

“I think he’s more concerned with winning than anything,” Orlando Brown Jr. said. “As individuals, we’ve all got people to prove wrong and things that we used to put a chip on our shoulder. At the end of the day, I know he’s more concerned with winning more than anything.”

Still, it’s noteworthy that it only took Jackson a complete season of starts, through two partial seasons, to begin the backtracking across the NFL landscape.

“If you watch ESPN or you watch TV, it’s going to come up no matter what,” Skura said. “Even on your Instagram feed it’s going to come up. I think for a lot of us, just in one ear and out the other as far as people pumping us up. You’ve kind of got to stay level-headed and ride the rollercoaster, so to say.”

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Stock up, stock down: Ravens clinch AFC North for second straight season

Stock up, stock down: Ravens clinch AFC North for second straight season

BALTIMORE — For the second straight season, the Ravens will have at least one home playoff game. 

The Ravens earned a dominating 42-21 win over the Jets on Thursday at M&T Bank Stadium, clinching the team’s division crown for the second year in a row. 

Here are a few players whose stocks are up and down after the win: 

Stock up: Lamar Jackson

At what point is Lamar Jackson’s stock so high, that it’s literally impossible to go down? Well, it wasn’t Thursday.

Not only did he punctuate the best rushing season an NFL quarterback has ever had, he added five passing touchdowns, too. He’s still got two games to further distance himself beyond Michael Vick’s 2006 rushing total of 1,039 yards.

Jackson added to his MVP resume with another outstanding performance in yet another blowout win. It was the third time this season he’s thrown for five touchdowns. 

He finished 15-for-23 passing with 212 passing yards and five scores. He added 86 yards on eight carries, too. Jackson was relieved of his duties by Robert Griffin III late in the fourth quarter, but only because he’d done his job so well. 

Stock up: Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith quietly had a good game for the Ravens tonight, a performance which included a critical pass breakup in the end zone on fourth down. 

The Ravens secondary struggled a bit in the first half, but turned things around in the second half — and the game took a big swing with Smith’s pass breakup. 

He finished with five tackles on the night as well.

Stock down: Special Teams

This was clearly the biggest negative on the night, and it wasn’t close. 

The Jets had excellent returns on punt and kicks, but that's not where the problems ended.

Justin Tucker missed an extra point, which is shocking for the league’s best kicker. The Ravens made up for the miss with a 2-point conversion, but the kick was still a surprising miss. 

Then, in the fourth quarter, the Jets blocked a punt and recovered the ball for a score. 

While none of the errors cost the Ravens the game, they’re still errors that need to be cleaned up.

Stock up: Mark Ingram

Ingram had another standout game, and finished with 76 yards on the ground on 13 carries. He also caught a touchdown pass from Jackson to put an exclamation point on the win. 

While Jackson’s legs carry the water, Ingram’s legs kept the offense churning all night long. 

He’s now just 37 yards away from the 1,000-yard mark on the season. 

Stock up: Chuck Clark

Chuck Clark found himself in the right spot at the right time late in the second quarter, as Sam Darnold fired an ugly interception to Clark.

Granted, Sam Darnold couldn’t have thrown a better pass to Clark. But it was still on the safety to make the catch and swing momentum.

Clark finished with just one tackle, but his INT added to his breakout year.

Stock down: Marcus Peters

One of the areas in the first half that plagued the Ravens defense was the secondary, which had numerous lapses in coverage. 

On one play, Peters got lost in coverage and Darnold just overthrew his intended target for what would’ve been a touchdown. 

Peters has played good football since he’s gotten to Baltimore, but it was tough to find in the first half.

Stock up: January Football

For the second straight season, the Ravens will have a home playoff game — courtesy of winning the AFC North. And for now, it looks like there will be more.

The Ravens can clinch a first-round bye with a Chiefs or a Patriots loss on Sunday, giving the team an extra week off. If both lose, they’ll clinch home-field advantage.

Should the Ravens win next Sunday, they’ll clinch home-field advantage no matter what the Patriots or Chiefs do this or next week. 

Right now, it appears the road to Miami through the AFC Playoffs runs through Baltimore. 

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Ravens Flock honors Washington Mystics during Thursday's game against Jets

Ravens Flock honors Washington Mystics during Thursday's game against Jets

There’s nothing better than seeing a culture where athletes are openly in support of one another’s success. 

The Washington Mystics popped up at M&T Bank stadium on Thursday night to show support of their fellow DMV sports team, the Baltimore Ravens, as they hosted the New York Jets. 

The Ravens Flock welcomed WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne, Kristin Toliver and Tiana Hawkins with open arms and honored the reigning WNBA champions at halftime. They also each received customized jerseys with their names on them.  

If the Ravens are lucky, the District of Champions could extend up I-95 in a few months. 

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