Patrick Mahomes vs. Lamar Jackson is a dream matchup for the NFL and football fans.
It’s the kind of matchup that should have the two great competitors excited to test themselves against one of the few players on their same level.
Well, maybe not.
“I don’t like competing against him at all,” Jackson said with a smile and a laugh.
Mahomes has taken the torch from Tom Brady, costing plenty of good quarterbacks a shot at the Super Bowl. Jackson hasn’t been to a Super Bowl yet, and to get there he and the Baltimore Ravens will have to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s AFC championship game.
That means beating Mahomes, who has the respect of the entire league, including Jackson.
Lamar Jackson calls Patrick Mahomes 'a Hall of Famer'
It’s rare for two quarterbacks at the level of Mahomes and Jackson to square off, particularly at their ages. It’s the first time in NFL playoff history that two former MVPs, both under the age of 30, will play against each other, according to NFL Media's Dante Koplowitz-Fleming.
Jackson’s respect for Mahomes was apparent.
“He’s a great quarterback. Definitely a Hall of Famer,” Jackson told the media on Wednesday. “It’s a no-brainer, he’s definitely a Hall of Famer.”
“I believe it’s two greats, two up-and-coming greats going toe to toe like a heavyweight fight, heavyweight matchup, that’s what I see.”
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 24, 2024
Mahomes praised Jackson as well, saying it’s “challenging” to face a quarterback with his ability.
“I’ve admired watching him from afar and know it’s going to be a great challenge for us every time we go up against him,” Mahomes told the Kansas City media.
"He's going to be the MVP for a reason."
The challenge of facing Mahomes has been much bigger for the Ravens over the years, however.
Mahomes and Jackson have faced off as starting quarterbacks four times. And it’s no wonder why Jackson doesn’t love competing against Mahomes.
Mahomes has played well vs. the Ravens
Mahomes has been great in all four meetings against the Ravens since Jackson took over as their starting quarterback.
2018: The Chiefs won 27-24 in overtime, after scoring the game-winning touchdown with 53 seconds left. Mahomes had 377 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson had 167 yards passing and a couple of touchdowns, with 67 yards rushing. Mahomes and the Chiefs got the best of the rookie Jackson.
2019: The Chiefs won again, 33-28, as they held on against a Ravens second-half rally. Mahomes had 374 yards and three touchdowns. Jackson had 267 yards passing and rushed for a touchdown but it wasn’t enough.
2020: Jackson and the Ravens got the Chiefs in Baltimore, but the result was the same. Kansas City won, 34-20. Mahomes threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns, continuing to torch Baltimore’s defense, and Jackson had just 97 passing yards, though he had 83 rushing yards. Mahomes moved to 3-0 in his starts against the Ravens and Jackson.
2021: The Ravens won, 36-35, but Mahomes played well again with 343 yards and three touchdowns. But Jackson’s two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter gave the Ravens the lead and they held on. Jackson had 239 yards passing and a touchdown, 107 yards rushing and two touchdowns. The Ravens got their win over Mahomes, but it was far from Mahomes’ fault that his team was on the losing end.
That’s four monster performances for Mahomes and three wins for the Chiefs in the head-to-head battles. Jackson is going to hope for a positive outcome on Sunday, even if he’d rather not see Mahomes on the other side at all.
But it's part of the climb.
"To be a champion, you've got to go through a champion," Jackson said.