The biggest question of the NFL wild-card weekend might be the availability of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who didn't sound optimistic about his chances to play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
The former MVP missed the final five games of the regular season due to a PCL sprain, despite being initially considered week-to-week in early December. Every practice since has seen hopes of a return dashed, and now the Ravens find themselves in a dire situation.
Jackson himself addressed his status on Thursday, when he revealed his injury is a Grade 2 PCL sprain bordering on a Grade 3. His knee reportedly remains inflamed and unstable, and he doesn't seem to think he will be playing on Sunday:
remains unstable. I’m still in good spirits, as I continue with treatments on the road to recovery. I wish I could be out there with my guys more than anything but I can’t give a 100% of myself to my guys and fans I’m still hopeful we still have a chance. 💜💜
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) January 12, 2023
That aligns with most reports on Jackson. Shortly before the quarterback's tweet, ESPN's Adam Schefter said Jackson did not practice again on Thursday, his 17th straight missed practice, and is not expected to play on Sunday.
The Ravens sure could use Lamar Jackson right now
In the time since Jackson went down, the Ravens have gone 2-3 while averaging 13 points per game. The situation went from bad to worse last week, when backup quarterback Tyler Huntley was also out with shoulder and wrist injuries, leaving third-stringer Anthony Brown, an undrafted rookie, to start in a must-win game.
Brown struggled in what ended up being a 27-16 loss to the Bengals in Week 18. Once 9-4 and tied with the Bengals atop the AFC North, plus ahead of any wild-card team, the Ravens stumbled their way to a 10-7 record.
The good news for Baltimore is that while Jackson still seems to be a long shot for the first round of the playoffs, Huntley resumed throwing on Thursday, per Schefter, and was a limited participant in practice.
Clearly, nothing is going to be easy for the Ravens this week, win or lose. If they win, it won't be easy next week. And with Jackson's protracted contract standoff still sitting in the background, the team seems on track for a complicated offseason as well.