Not all prime-time NFL matchups are created equally.
Count this week’s Monday night clash as premium-cut Grade A prime.
The last time a regular-season game had this kind of hype, the Kansas City Chief out-dueled the Los Angeles Rams in a Monday night tilt that can reasonably be called the greatest regular-season football game ever played.
Patrick Mahomes and company are in the spotlight once again this week as the Chiefs take on the Baltimore Ravens in the main event of this young NFL season that can be live-streamed the Yahoo Sports app.
So many accolades
It’s a contest pitting last year’s best regular-season team against the defending Super Bowl champions. It’s a matchup of 2019 league MVP Lamar Jackson vs. Super Bowl MVP Mahomes. That same quarterback duel is a clash of the league’s last two league MVPs and arguably the NFL’s two brightest young stars.
Of course, Mahomes and Jackson won’t square off against each other. They’ll take on opposing defenses that finished last season ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in scoring. Both defenses find themselves among the league’s 10 best to start 2020.
It’s a meeting that most neutral observers would relish seeing again in the AFC championship game.
For now, we’ll have to settle for slightly lower stakes as the pair of 2-0 teams jockey early for playoff positioning. And that’ll do just fine.
Can Ravens exact revenge, get early leg up?
The last time these two met was Week 3 last season. Mahomes was fresh off a stunning 50-touchdown MVP campaign in his first season as a starter that ended a Dee Ford offsides penalty short of a trip to the Super Bowl. He was a known commodity.
Jackson, not so much. The then-second year quarterback showed promise in seven starts in 2018 as a rookie and took over for Joe Flacco to lead the Ravens to a playoff berth. He was only beginning to tease the electricity that would spark the league’s highest-scoring offense.
The Chiefs got off to a hot start that day, scoring 23 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 23-6 lead into halftime. The Ravens battled back as a late Jackson touchdown run cut the Kansas City lead to 33-28 with 2:01 remaining.
But Mahomes would not give the ball back to Jackson as the Chiefs ran out the clock to hand the Ravens the first of their two regular-season losses in 2019. Mahomes bested Jackson in the box score, too, throwing for 374 yards and three touchdowns without a turnover. Jackson’s lone score that day was his late touchdown on the ground.
On Monday, we’ll see a fully-formed Jackson showing MVP form again after a pair of dominant wins over the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans. Mahomes, of course, is still Mahomes as the Chiefs have toppled the Texans and the Los Angeles Chargers. Both players are armed with a stable of versatile offensive weapons.
And those defenses? They’re still stout.
This one’s going to be fun.
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