A bye week will always be a blessing for an NFL team, especially when they are looking to make a deep playoff run. The Baltimore Ravens earned theirs after getting the top seed in all of football entering the NFL playoffs. Lamar Jackson and company could watch the first round of games from the comfort of their own homes. That was a blessing in multiple ways, but one, in particular, has to have the team feeling particularly good about their standing.
Lamar Jackson is the story of the Ravens’ season
The story of the Ravens’ season was, in many ways, the story of Lamar Jackson. Sure, the quarterback has been quick to credit everyone on offense for the season that is likely to garner him an MVP award, but without Jackson’s dual-threat performance at quarterback, the team would be unlikely to have the success they saw throughout the season.
The talented yet humble Jackson played in 15 games during the season before resting for the final game. In that time, he threw for 3,127 yards, 36 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He completed 66% of his passes and still managed to rush for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns. That was a far cry from the season before when many painted Jackson as a running quarterback who could not rely on his arm in games.
It might have been his season, but Lamar Jackson got help from his defense and his support on offense, however. Running back Mark Ingram rushed for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. The team bought into the system and reaped the benefits. They stood at 2-2 after four games, and, to date, they have not seen a loss since. Everything is stacked in the Ravens’ favor, but the playoffs are a different beast.
The playoff picture in the AFC
The wild card round was friendly to the Ravens as they sat at home, with one potential game looming large. The biggest game of the first round for the Ravens’ Super Bowl dreams was the Tennessee Titans game against the New England Patriots. Given the way that most seasons have gone for nearly two decades, the New England Patriots were expected to defeat the Titans easily. The Titans didn’t get the memo and capitalized on a rare poor performance by Tom Brady and the gang, winning 20-13.
The Houston Texans’ defeat of the Buffalo Bills did not loom as large, but they could prove to be a formidable opponent for Patrick Mahomes and company. With the perceived biggest threat out of the way, however, the Ravens might have the keys to their destiny. However, a recent unfortunate event made the week off a larger blessing in disguise.
Bye week blessings for Lamar Jackson and the Ravens
According to Yahoo! Sports, John Harbaugh announced during a press conference that Jackson had been fighting the flu. It was a sickness that was going around the entire Ravens’ locker room, and if the team had not secured the bye, two things might have happened. They might have had to play without their quarterback and other key pieces available, or they would have kicked off with a hobbled version of the roster.
With the bye week behind them, the early sickness should give Lamar Jackson and his teammates plenty of time to recover from the unfortunately-timed event. However, the timing of the flu bug shows just how valuable having that first-round bye for a team can be. Assuming that Jackson and company are healthy enough to compete, they will have to show up and compete, however, or the Titans, Chiefs suddenly scary defense, or Texans could send the team packing earlier than they expected to be.