Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are MVP and title favourites tackle the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in what could be a Super Bowl preview.
We seem to be having these five-star match-ups every week now, but this really is a blockbuster and a genuine contender for being a dress rehearsal for the Super Bowl in February.
These two met in a hugely enjoyable Super Bowl in 2013, and the way they’re both playing it’s easy to see them both making it back to the big game in Miami next year, with both the Ravens and 49ers already beating last season’s contenders the Rams and Patriots between them.
Baltimore’s all-action quarterback Lamar Jackson is looking unplayable right now – and he’s the new odds-on favourite to be crowned MVP at the end of the season while his Ravens side are also joint-favourites to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy.
San Francisco 49ers @ Baltimore Ravens
Match odds: 2/5 | 2/1
Spread: Ravens: -5 | 49ers +5 10/11
Total Points: Over 46.5pts 10/11 | Under 46.5pts 10/11
Things have just clicked for Baltimore during their seven-game winning streak, with Jackson showing other worldly running ability for a QB of his size but also being more than capable of throwing strikes with his arm as well.
It's not just the 9-2 record for the Ravens, or their winning streak that has seen them continually cut for Super Bowl glory, but rather the teams they've beaten and the manner of those victories. Houston and Seattle have both been dispatched comfortably while both of last year's Super Bowl teams have also been conquered.
Baltimore crushed the Rams in Los Angeles, but perhaps most impressive of all was their mauling of the reigning champions New England - who have a historically good defence this season but could just not control Jackson and their rampaging run game.
Now step forward San Francisco, a four-win team from last season who top the NFC at 10-1 after surprising us all with their play this season. They crushed Green Bay last week as they start a tough run of fixtures that will really prove just how good they are this season.
"They do some real cool stuff, stuff that's real interesting," San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan said of the Ravens. "I enjoy looking at how impressive it is in the scheme, but it's not going to be that fun thinking of how to stop it."
San Francisco do have the NFL's top-ranked defence to fall back on, but a unit that also leads the league with 44 sacks will face a unique task in trying to contain and limit Jackson - who has run for a mind-boggling 876 yards this season - that's just 163 yards short of Michael Vick's quarterback rushing record for an entire season.
Super Bowl odds
- 3/1 Ravens | Patriots
- 9/2 Saints
- 11/2 49ers
- 12/1 Chiefs | Seahawks
His rushing yardage total is ranked tenth among all players in the league, while his 7.1 yards per run is the best in the NFL, but he's just as effective in the passing game - tying for the league high with 24 touchdowns and twice recording a perfect passer rating.
It's undoubtedly the biggest question teams face when playing the Ravens, and one the Niners have to figure out if they're to pull off a huge win n what is the first leg of the toughest road trip imaginable - as they follow up this meeting with a trip to New Orleans to face the Saints.
The winner on Sunday will become huge fancies for Super Bowl LIV, and they may just have to face the same opponents come he big game in Miami.
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