For the first time in his four-year NFL career, Lamar Jackson will miss a game due to injury. That’s what Jay Glaser reported in the NFL pre-game show on FOX this morning, also stating the ankle injury is a bone bruise.
That impressive durability streak for the dual-threat NFL star comes to an end at 3:25 p.m. this afternoon against the Packers, in game televised exclusively in Western Wisconsin by FOX 25/48.
That means back-up Tyler Huntley will start, a proven back-up who has led Baltimore to victory earlier this season when Jackson was out sick and almost brought the Ravens all the way back last week when Jackson was knocked out with an ankle injury in a 24-22 loss to Cleveland.
Aaron Rodgers is not at 100 percent with his injured toe, but the Green Bay quarterback has been in league MVP form despite missing all but one practice in the past month. Rodgers has thrown 10 touchdown passes with no interceptions in the past three games as the 10-3 Packers currently hold the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
“Because of the situation with my toe, obviously I’ve had to come up with a different routine that’s worked for me to get me in the right headspace to play well on game day,” Rodgers said in his mid-week press conference.
A Green Bay victory over Baltimore will clinch an NFC North Division title for the third time in head coach Matt LaFleur’s three-year tenure.
A decimated Ravens team due to a season-long slew of injuries still sports an 8-5 record and is in first place in the AFC North. They will rally around Huntley and his prime target of stellar tight end Mark Andrews and receiver Rashod Bateman. The offense has struggled in the running game after preseason injuries to J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards and the offense has reached 20 points just twice in the past seven games.
Green Bay will probably be without the services of the anchor and leader of their defensive line, Kenny Clark, who is having a Pro Bowl-type season. Clark was added to the COVID-19 reserve list on Thursday and will most likely miss the Ravens contest.
The Packers injury-ravaged offensive line will not be bolstered by the return of All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari this week. Bakhtiari returned to practice Wednesday after missing three weeks due to a second left-knee surgery, but was ruled out of the Ravens contest by LaFleur on Friday.
The difference in the Ravens-Packers game could come down to turnovers. Green Bay has been stellar this season, with a plus 12 in turnover differential. Baltimore is at the opposite end of the spectrum at minus-9.
Roles are reversed concerning special teams, a unit Ravens head coach John Harbaugh takes great pride in. Under LaFleur, the Packers special teams units have struggled mightily at times, especially this season.
After an all-time low performance against the Chicago Bears last Sunday night, the special teams units are under intense scrutiny and need immediate improvement. LaFleur said an “all hands” on deck approach will be taken to bolster that phase down the home stretch of the season.
Week 15 NFL Picks
Packers 27, Ravens 24
Back-up Tyler Huntley is capable but does not stress defenses like Lamar Jackson. Rodgers and playmakers Adams, Jones, and Dillon generate enough points to grind out a physical win on the road over AFC North leader. Turnovers and special teams play are keys in this contest.