With Lamar Jackson on Their Side, Ravens Feel Confident vs. Patriots

**QB Lamar Jackson** Jackson is one of the leaders for MVP and a shoo-in for the Pro Bowl as it stands now. He would be the first Ravens quarterback to be voted into the Pro Bowl. Jackson is on pace for more than 3,500 yards passing and an NFL record 1,248 rushing yards. He’s become one of the league’s biggest stars and hardest players to defend.

The Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champions. They're undefeated (8-0). They have the league's top defense and the GOAT, Tom Brady.

Baltimore is coming off a big win in Seattle, a 12-1 record in primetime games and are 9-2 after the bye under Head Coach John Harbaugh. Plus, the Ravens are one of the few teams who has actually beaten the Patriots.

But you know why the Ravens feel confident heading into Sunday's game? He wears No. 8.

It will be Lamar Jackson's first time in the Ravens-Patriots rivalry, and the Ravens like their chances.

"We'll see how good they are once we play them," tight end Nick Boyle said. "I don't think they've seen anyone like our offense or like Lamar. They're a good team and we'll need to bring our 'A' game."

Boyle isn't wrong. The quarterbacks the Patriots have faced this season include Josh Rosen (Miami), Luke Falk (New York Jets), Colt McCoy (Washington), Daniel Jones (New York Giants), Sam Darnold (Jets) and Baker Mayfield (Browns).

Jackson is playing at a far different level than any of those quarterbacks and the Ravens' unique offensive scheme, built around Jackson's exceptional talents, adds an entirely different element.

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick is the master of taking away a team's best offensive weapon with varying defensive tactics. But can he take away a talent as unique as Jackson? The answer to that question will be the biggest storyline of Sunday's game.

"With Lamar, it changes the nature of the game," veteran guard Marshal Yanda said.

"I'm excited to see what they come up with to stop him and how Lamar beats it," cornerback Jimmy Smith added.

Belichick said the Patriots don't have anybody on their roster that can simulate Jackson, so it's tough to practice for him. Belichick called Jackson a "big problem."

"I don't know if anybody else in the league has a guy, either," Belichick said. "He's a very talented player with a great skillset that's unique. So, that will be a big challenge for us to try to do that."

Jackson ranks 10th in the NFL in rushing yards (576) and first in yards per carry (6.9). He ran for 116 yards and a touchdown against Seattle and 152 yards and a touchdown versus Cincinnati the week before.

The Ravens had success against the Patriots with Joe Flacco under center. They beat them twice during the 2012 season, including in a primetime matchup at M&T Bank Stadium early in the season and again in the AFC Championship. Since then, New England has won the last three meetings, however.

Defensive tackle Brandon Williams said Jackson definitely brings a different feeling to the game.

"I feel like he brings a whole new dynamic to our offense. He's a baller," Williams said. "And with him, they have a lot of stuff to work on. They have a lot of things to try to get ready to play him. So, that's definitely to our advantage, where they're worrying about him and not us."

The Patriots could mix things up this week and present Jackson with a defensive game plan that differs, even drastically, from what they've had a tendency to do before this year. Having extra time to study the Patriots is great, but the Ravens could get something totally new on Sunday.

Jackson, for one, isn't overthinking it.

"I'm preparing for the Patriots just like any other team," Jackson said.

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