While Justin Fields, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance will all be missing from action this week, the only quarterback chosen in front of that trio in the 2021 National Football League Draft, Trevor Lawrence, is about to move his career from its rocky start to one that could have him inducted into the Hall of Fame five years after he ends his playing days.
Today, Lawrence leads his Jacksonville Jaguars against the Baltimore Ravens and their one-time offensive player of the year, quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Bears first round choice in 2021, Fields, will be missing from Chicago’s starting unit on Sunday when they battle the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. In his place, the Chicago Bears will start journeyman backup Trevor Siemian. Fields has provided fireworks out of the Bears backfield with both his arm and legs this season, but it has resulted in Chicago only winning three of their first 11 games.
The Jets have also made a quarterback shift this week, although while the Bears was caused by a shoulder injury to Fields, the benching of Wilson is a coaching decision. In his place, the Jets open today’s game with Mike White behind center.
Lance, the San Francisco 49ers first pick in the 2021 draft, third overall, was injured during second week action this year after taking over the starting quarterback role from Jimmy Garoppolo. Who, fortunately, the 49ers didn’t deal away while clearing the path for their confirmed starter of the future, Lance.
Lance lost his first start, and was injured in his second. Garoppolo took command of the 49ers offense and with the recent addition of Christian McCaffrey to an already potent stable of offensive weapons, the 49ers appear in good shape.
The first player chosen in the 2021 draft was Lawrence, and he promptly led the Jaguars to a second straight worst record in the league in his rookie season. This year, the Jaguars won/loss record has still not caught up to their talent, and they come into action today with three wins in ten decisions.
The Ravens visit Jacksonville riding a four game winning streak that has them perched atop the AFC North Division standings, one game ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals with a four game bulge over both the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.
What we have colliding in Florida on Sunday is a confident road favorite ripe to be beat by an improving Jaguars squad. Stats will tell you that the Jaguars strength is stopping the run, while the Ravens have had trouble establishing a consistent passing attack this season. For some, that matchup would carry weight and lead to a siding with the home underdog Jaguars.
I end up on the same side, but for different reasons.
This is a motivational trap for the Ravens who are alone in first place and confident of a win over a struggling Jaguars squad that knows it needs to play better to have any chance of winning.
That is exactly what Lawrence and his teammates are going to do today, play better, and it will be good enough to beat a Ravens squad that is under the impression that playing as well as they have in recent weeks would be good enough to win.
In fact, last week it wasn’t even good enough to cover the point spread against one of the worst teams in the league on their home field. The Ravens got by the Carolina Panthers in Baltimore last Sunday, 13-3, but were favored by 12½ points.
Not good enough to cover at home against the Panthers does not equate to the Ravens being good enough to win and cover a point spread on the road against Jacksonville.
And for Trevor Lawrence, this is the launching point for a highly successful career that has all the promise of being special.
Qoxhi Picks: Jacksonville Jaguars (+3½) over Baltimore Ravens