AFC Championship Game -- Here's where Lamar Jackson gets to prove he's the MVP

  • In Charles Jay
  • Sun, Jan 28th, 2024 11:13:02 am
  • By Charles Jay - Exclusive to OSGA

The Baltimore Ravens are the host team as Lamar Jackson tries to punch a ticket to his first Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Preview and Pick for Chiefs at Ravens

As we came down the stretch, the general assumption on the part of BetOnline customers has been that after big wins over the Rams, Niners and Dolphins, the Baltimore Ravens' quarterback, Lamar Jackson, was going to cruise to the MVP award.

Chiefs Ravens free pickHe is, in fact, already listed as the +200 favorite to win the MVP in the Super Bowl.

Of course, he's got to get to the Super Bowl first.

And he can go a long way toward proving he's MVP-caliber by propelling his team into one final game.

Jackson has a 2-4 lifetime record in the playoffs. And now he has to face a quarterback with 13 career playoff wins when the Ravens take on Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC title, beginning at 3 PM ET at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Bet the NFL Championship Games at

KC has gotten the better of Baltimore in the recent past. But Jackson and John Harbaugh and the rest of the Ravens' organization would like to think this is the best team they've had to face Andy Reid's Chiefs with. Their defense leads the NFL in points allowed. They've had seven victories over playoff teams, with the average winning margin at just shy of two touchdowns.

And they have the MVP taking snaps, right?

Well, maybe.

One thing Jackson does is scramble (pardon the pun) any defensive coordinator's game plan because of his ability to run with the ball. He can do it in an improvisational setting or on a designed play. Against Houston last week he had 100+ yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns. In the last three games he has played against the Chiefs, he has rushed for 226 yards on 33 attempts. And only three teams in the NFL have yielded more rushing yards to quarterbacks than Kansas City.

Jackson is priced at -143 to go over 68.5 rushing yards in Prop Builder (-110 on the under).

In the AFC Championship Game odds as they have been posted at BetOnline, the Ravens are favored at home:

Baltimore Ravens -4.5 (-105)
Kansas City Chiefs +4.5 (-115)

Over 44 Points -105
Under 44 Points -115

Ravens Chiefs prediction
The Ravens will have to get a tremendous game out of Jackson to advance. We obviously sense that. It may wind up helping him a great deal that Mark Andrews is set to return. The All-Pro tight end has been out of action with an ankle injury, And he was not expected to play at all for the rest of the season. But he ramped up his rehab efforts, and here he is. Can he be effective? He is undoubtedly Jackson's favorite target. And is he can contribute that's important, since Kansas City has done such a good job on the opponents' #1 wide receiver this season.

Mahomes will need something substantial from rookie WR Rashee Rice, who has seen 25% of the targets over the last eight games. He needs to somehow stretch out the Baltimore defense, making it easier for Isiah Pacheco to establish a running game. He's capable of handling a heavy load, but it should be noted that he is nursing a toe injury.

The Ravens can be counted on to concentrate defensive efforts on Travis Kelce, by far the most reliable guy Mahomes has to throw to. And they have been able to slow down tight ends - only two have had more than 60 yards against them this season.

One big blow to KC is that they will be missing All-Pro guard Joe Thuney, who's got a pectoral injury. Offensive line injuries have buried Mahomes in the past.

I guess I would recommend Baltimore on a small play here. The Thuney injury is part of it, but the Ravens are truly the better team. And can the respective turnover margins be ignored? Baltimore is at +12 (tied for best in the league), while KC is one of the worst at minus-13.

But some things worry us. For one thing, Mahomes is a superior underdog, with a 9-1-1 ATS record when getting points. And the fact that Jackson is not known as a playoff QB doesn't add confidence. And we know the league, and the networks, would like nothing better than to have the Chiefs and Kelce and Taylor Swift in the Super Bowl (that's the conspiracy theory).

Chiefs Ravens AFC Championship pickWe might split this wager up between halves. The Ravens are notoriously fast starters, with the best first-half point differential in the NFL. And the Chiefs have gone into the locker room and made good halftime adjustments with Steve Spagnuolo, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 56% of their second-half passes.

So in the first half, Baltimore would be the play at -3 (-120). Then maybe KC winning the third and fourth quarter, laying -120 and -130, respectively. And there is a Prop Builder play at -110 that the first half will be the highest scoring half. The Chiefs have gone under the second half total in 17 of 19 games. That would be under 9.5 points in the third, and 13.5 in the fourth, laying a price too (-125, then -130). Or you can wait and deal with it in a prop at halftime or in Live Betting, which is also available.

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