This Isn’t a Doomsday Scenario After All - John Eisenberg
If Jackson can’t go, “Tyler will be out there,” Harbaugh said, referring to Tyler Huntley, Jackson’s backup, who played so well in relief Sunday that the Browns joked on the sidelines that they were rooting for Jackson to come back and play.
“I thought he was quick and just as good,” Cleveland defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said of Huntley.
“Their skillsets are similar,” added Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski. “(Huntley) can throw it. He can make plays late in the down, as you saw. He is hard to get on the ground.”
It makes for another example of the 2021 season normalizing what I once thought was impossible.
A December playoff push with Jackson’s status uncertain? Until recently, the prospect would have produced a code-red panic across Baltimore. Few teams have depended more on one player than the Ravens have depended on Jackson since he became a starter.
But that was before Jackson’s recent lull (for him) in which he struggled to react quickly to blitzes and threw more interceptions than usual.
Maybe it’s premature to give Huntley so much credit because he is young and has barely played, but he looks like a more-than-able fill-in for Jackson, quite capable of giving the Ravens a chance to win.
Justin Tucker is basically automatic on extra points, so for the sake of the argument, let’s assume he’d make the conversion 100% of the time.
So the Ravens would need to be confident they could convert such a two-point conversion about 11% of the time for this move to make sense. Even having Huntley as their quarterback, this is pretty asymmetrical.
If the Ravens had waited to try the two-point conversion until their last touchdown against the Browns, the likelihood of a conversion would have been largely the same as if they attempted it after the penultimate touchdown. The advantage of knowing the outcome after the first touchdown is that, in the quest for the second touchdown, you already know if you need to kick the onside attempt after (which likely requires some time left to be successful) — or if you can bleed the clock and play for overtime after tying it with a much more successful point-after try.
The Ravens continue to make the right choices in many instances, and it’s encouraging that their head coach is not just plugged into what those right choices are, but can also go through the apologetics for them. As more teams find it acceptable to make correct choices, it’s also important for the media and fans to know the whys so that we can continue to advance the game to the next set of insights, as opposed to constantly arguing about solved problems.
The Packers are 5-1 against the spread in their past six road games and 7-1 against the spread in their past eight games as a favorite, according to CBS Sports. The Ravens, meanwhile, have been home underdogs just three times since Jackson took over as a starter in 2018, winning all three, with victories over the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019 and the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 this season.
Green Bay leads the all-time series 4-2, but the Ravens won the teams’ last meeting, blanking the Rodgers-less Packers in 2017 at Lambeau Field, 23-0. Rodgers last started against the Ravens in 2013, finishing 17-for-32 for 315 yards, a touchdown and an interception in a 19-17 road win.
The over-under for Sunday’s game is 43 ½ points.
NFL Week 15 picks: Patriots shock Colts in AFC showdown, Chiefs knock off Chargers, Eagles beat Washington - John Breech
Green Bay (10-3) at Baltimore (8-5)
4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
It’s looking like we’ll get Rodgers against Jackson, but it’s not set in stone. The one interesting part of this game is that Jackson has NEVER lost to an NFC team. He’s 12-0 in his career and I feel like that has something to do with the fact that he’s already a difficult QB to prepare for and it becomes even more difficult when you don’t really study Baltimore’s offense due to the fact that you only face them once every four years like NFC teams do.
If Jackson was fully healthy, I’d think about taking the Ravens, but he’s not, so I’m rolling with the Packers.
The pick: Packers 31-24 over Ravens
Green Bay Packers (-7) at Baltimore Ravens
The injury to Lamar Jackson turns this game from an intriguing affair into a potential blowout. The Ravens’ offense has been a mess in the past five weeks, and that could only get worse if Tyler Huntley is under center. The one positive element for the Ravens — if they can get Jackson even limited in practice, they can force the Packers to prepare for both QBs.
The Packers’ offense is now averaging 37.3 points per game in the last three weeks. They appear to be getting better and better every week. However, their defense and special teams have struggled. Nonetheless, against this struggling Ravens offense, they should have too much for the upset to be a major concern.
Packers vs. Ravens Prediction: Packers 33, Ravens 21