The Baltimore Ravens will be aiming for their third consecutive win in an early Week 3 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. These two franchises have produced several memorable games over 20 regular season meetings. The Ravens and Jaguars are one of the more underrated rivalries in the league.
Jacksonville was awarded an NFL franchise in 1995, when the NFL erroneously concluded their city was a better destination than Baltimore. The Ravens were born the next season and have sold out every game since their inception. The Jaguars have some of the worst attendance totals in the league, prompting their annual ‘home’ game across the Atlantic. Beginning in 1996, these teams squared off twice a year as members of the former AFC Central division. Jacksonville won each of the first eight meetings in the series behind a potent Mark Brunell led offense.
The Ravens turned the tables in 2000 with an epic back-and-forth victory. Former Jags receiver Jimmy Smith caught three touchdowns in the game, including a fortuitous tipped ball 40-yard score with less than two minutes remaining on the clock. But Tony Banks tossed his fifth scoring strike of the afternoon to Shannon Sharpe, giving the Ravens a dramatic last minute win.
This 2000 shootout victory put the young Ravens franchise on the map as legitimate contenders, they would eventually go on to win the Super Bowl that season. Baltimore then began their own winning streak against the Jaguars, beating them six straight times through 2003. The Jaguars snapped the streak with a 30-3 blowout in 2005 after Kyle Boller tossed three interceptions, an indication of what was to come for Brian Billick.
Since John Harbaugh took over as head coach in 2008, the Ravens have won three of five meetings. The first loss was an embarrassing Monday night game where the heavily favored Ravens mustered just one touchdown in 2011. The second included a controversial ending, a boneheaded Elvis Dumervil penalty allowed Jacksonville kick a game winning field goal as time expired in 2015. Week 3 will mark the fourth straight season with a Baltimore - Jacksonville battle, the Jaguars lead the all-time series 11-9.
The teams are basically mirror images of each other this year. Both clubs have devoted a majority of their draft and free agency resources to the defensive side of the ball; resulting in rosters with talented defensive fronts, playmaking linebackers and lockdown cornerback tandems. Their offenses are also similar, both emphasize smash mouth football behind patchwork offensive lines, and have suffered season ending injuries to their top offensive players.
Baltimore’s performances against Jacksonville have been a somewhat of a bellwether for the team. Postseason worthy Ravens squads traditionally defeat the Jags, while teams destined to disappoint often struggle against their former AFC Central competition. On Sunday, both clubs will attempt to impose their will on the match using the same blueprint for success. The Week 3 showdown against Jacksonville presents a true crossroads for the 2017 Ravens.