AFC North Buzz: Lamar Jackson’s biggest test, Myles Garrett's dominance rewarded plus Bengals, Steelers news

AFC North: Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes face off in a battle of the best quarterbacks plus other news impacting the division.
AFC Divisional Playoffs - Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens
AFC Divisional Playoffs - Houston Texans v Baltimore Ravens / Kirby Lee/GettyImages
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The AFC North buzz this week centers around the Baltimore Ravens taking on the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Championship Game showdown between two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Can Lamar Jackson hurdle the biggest test of this career?  Also, we check in on the Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals.

When the top-seeded Ravens take on Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champions, the spotlight will rightfully be on the Jackson vs Mahomes quarterback matchup.  In talking about that matchup, Jackson knows he’s going up against one tough competitor in Mahomes.

“He’s a great quarterback.  [He’s] definitely a Hall of Famer.  It’s a no-brainer,” Jackson said of facing Mahomes.  “I believe [it’s] just two greats – up-and-coming-greats – just going toe-to-toe, like a heavyweight fight.”

AFC North Hype: Lamar Jackson primed and ready for a special showdown

It should be very special.  With Jackson needing to get past the Chiefs to prove he can get it done in the playoffs and Mahomes trying to lead his team to back-to-back Super Bowl titles that would secure the Chiefs as a dynasty, it’s going to be a war and one worth getting your popcorn ready, especially with two teams playing their best football colliding for the rights to reach the big game.

The Ravens, with Jackson playing at an MVP level, has been the most complete team all season long, but the Chiefs are the team peaking at just the right time.  They are also the team in the way of Jackson achieving his goal this season, reaching and winning the Super Bowl.

“To be a champion, you’ve got to go through a champion,” Jackson said when talking about his matchup with Mahomes and the Chiefs.  “So, that’s pretty much the mindset.”

That is exactly how it works in the NFL.  Mahomes had to go through Tom Brady before becoming the guy to beat and now Jackson will have to go through Mahomes.  In four games against the Chiefs, Jackson hasn’t been at his best, averaging just 187.6 passing yards against Kansas City.  But this is a different Lamar Jackson and a man due for a big game against the one player, the one team in his way.