Lamar Jackson Won’t Start for the Baltimore Ravens in AFC Wild Card

Quarterback Lamar Jackson has been sidelined by a knee injury for several weeks. He won’t start for the Baltimore Ravens against the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC wild-card game on Sunday.

Lamar Jackson Knee Injury Baltimore Ravens QB Status AFC Wild Card Playoffs Bengals
Denver Broncos linebacker Jonathan Cooper sacked Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in Week 15 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. (Image: Nick Wass/AP)

The Bengals won the AFC North and secured the #3 seed in the AFC playoffs. The reigning AFC Champions will host the #6 Ravens in the first round.

The two AFC North rivals met twice this season and split the series. The Ravens defeated the Bengals, 19-17, in Week 5. In the final game of the season in Week 18, the Bengals defeated the Ravens by the score of 27-16. The two squads will meet again seven days later. The winner advances to the AFC Divisional round and will meet the winner of the #7 Miami Dolphins vs #2 Buffalo Bills.

The Bengals opened as -6.5 favorites against the Ravens. But at the time, there was speculation that Jackson could return to action. Jackson updated his health status on Twitter on Thursday night, and the point spread jumped to -9.5.

The Ravens are +370 on the moneyline as the underdog, while the Bengals are -460 on the moneyline as the favorite.

The home team won both games this season in the Ravens/Bengals series, yet failed to cover the point spread. The underdog beat the spread both times, despite losing the game outright. In Week 5, the Ravens were installed as -3 favorites, but only won by two points. In Week 18, the Bengals were -11.5 favorites, yet only won by eight points.

Jackson Still Nursing PCL Injury

The Ravens were 8-4 before Jackson sustained a knee injury in a victory against the Denver Broncos in Week 13. It was initially diagnosed as a sprained knee. But the Ravens didn’t elaborate any further.

Without Jackson for the final five games of the season, the Ravens were 2-3. They ended the season with a two-game losing streak, including a loss against the Bengals last week.

The Ravens had yet to name a starter in the AFC wild card. But Jackson ended any speculation when he updated fans on social media about his status against the Bengals. He sustained a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) sprain, which still had significant inflammation more than five weeks after the initial injury.

I’ve suffered a PCL grade 2 sprain on the borderline of a strain 3,” tweeted Jackson. “There is still inflammation surrounding my knee and my knee remains unstable.”

The betting markets spiked when Jackson’s tweet reached his 1.1 million followers.

“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,” said Jackson in an additional tweet.

Head coach John Harbaugh would prefer to start backup Tyler Huntley against the Bengals. But he still has a sore shoulder. Huntley suffered a shoulder and arm injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 17. Without Jackson or Huntley, Harbaugh has no other options other than a third-string quarterback in a playoff game.

Next Man Up: Anthony Brown

Huntley has a 3-5 career record as a starter, including a 2-2 record this season. The former Utah quarterback has been a backup behind Jackson over the last three seasons. During his short career with the Ravens, Huntley completed 65.6% of his passes for 1,754 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Huntley is a mobile quarterback, very similar to Jackson. He averages 4.5 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns in only 100 career attempts.

A banged-up Huntley skipped Week 18’s game against the Bengals. Third-string quarterback Anthony Brown started instead. Brown, a former Oregon Ducks quarterback, went undrafted after his collegiate career ended. He latched on to the Ravens this season and could start in his first playoff game.

Brown struggled against the Bengals in his first career start in Week 18. He completed 19-of-44 passes for 296 yards and zero touchdowns. He tossed two interceptions and was sacked four times.

Huntley was limited in practice this week and didn’t attempt any passing drills. All signs suggest Brown could start back-to-back games against the Bengals.