The Baltimore Ravens spent the final six games of the regular season struggling offensively as they tried to navigate life without Lamar Jackson. That they were able to go 3-3 and secure a playoff spot was a rather incredible feat by their defense, which carried them home as Tyler Huntley and Anthony Brown had a hard time putting up points on the board.
In the five games prior to the season finale, a 27-16 loss to a Cincinnati team they’ll face again in the Wild Card round on Sunday night, Baltimore gave up fewer than 16 points in five straight games, but also never scored more than 17. As such, most expected their playoff hopes to rest on the left knee of Jackson, as he’s been trying to work back from a PCL sprain. Unfortunately, Thursday did not bring good news as the former MVP made a public statement on Twitter explaining his knee is still “unstable” and despite his best efforts to work his way back, he will not be able to go on Sunday.
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. 💜💜AdvertisementAdvertisement
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) January 12, 2023
Jackson’s absence is huge, and puts a damper on the penultimate game of Wild Card weekend. Without him, the Ravens offense simply lacks anything close to the same level of juice, but if his knee isn’t right, that also limits his ability to bring the dynamism that makes him (and Baltimore) work so well. On top of that, Jackson is entering free agency and has long-term to consider as well, and risking major injury when his knee isn’t stable isn’t a smart risk to take on.
Huntley is expected back after missing the finale with shoulder and wrist injuries, which is an upgrade over Brown but still presents an uphill task against a Cincinnati offense that has been firing on all cylinders of late. Baltimore’s defense has been among the league’s best, but they will need help if they’re going to have any chance of taking down the reigning AFC champs.