SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Lamar Jackson vs. Nick Bosa. The NFL’s most dynamic offense against one of its stingiest defenses. A rematch of a Super Bowl played seven years ago and a possible preview of another.
The game Sunday between the San Francisco 49ers (10-1) and the Baltimore Ravens (9-2) is one of the premier matchups of the entire season, even if it won’t get the national television exposure it deserves.
The game will be played in the early window after the league opted to flex the Oakland-Kansas City game into the doubleheader slot and kept the matchup between New England and Houston in prime time.
That takes no luster off a matchup between two of the league’s dominant teams.
“They look great,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “They’re killing people. They’ve got a great football team who you as coaches, we’ve gone to work on them already. We know what we’re up against. We’ve got to get back, we’ve got to get rested and we’ve got to get to work.”
This matchup is unprecedented in many ways, the first time two teams will meet coming off wins of at least 28 points against teams with winning records, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The 49ers dealt a prime-time beatdown to the Green Bay Packers last Sunday, forcing Aaron Rodgers into the least efficient game of his career in a 37-8 victory.
The Ravens answered the next night in Los Angeles by becoming the first team in 11 years to score touchdowns on its first six drives in a 45-6 romp over the Rams.
It’s also the first time since the merger that teams outscoring opponents by at least 15 points per game met this late in the season.
The Niners have done it in large part thanks to a dominant defense that has an NFL-high 44 sacks. A deep line led by Bosa is helping hold opponents to the fewest net yards passing per game (136.9) in 37 years.
The Ravens are relying more on Jackson and the offense. Baltimore is averaging more than 40 points per game over the past five contests, with four of those games coming against teams with winning records.
Jackson has been nearly unstoppable, averaging 7.1 yards per carry, posting a 111.4 passer rating and accounting for 30 touchdowns in his first full season as a starter.
The showdown between the 49ers and Ravens is one of six games this week featuring a pair of winning teams squaring off, including the Thanksgiving day game between Buffalo (8-3) and Dallas (6-5).
On Sunday, Tennessee (6-5) travels to Indianapolis (6-5) in a matchup of AFC South teams fighting for the division title or a wild-card spot, New England (10-1) visits Houston (7-4) in a matchup of first-place teams, and Oakland (6-5) visits Kansas City (7-4) in an old-school AFC West battle with first place on the line.
“This is great for NFL fans and football and we’re excited to have a meaningful game this time of year against the Chiefs,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said.
The week ends with an intriguing Monday night matchup between two of the NFC’s top teams when Minnesota (8-3) visits Seattle (9-2).
Week 13 started with a Thanksgiving tripleheader, with all three visiting teams winning. New Orleans topped Atlanta 26-18 for its third straight NFC South title, Buffalo beat Dallas 26-15, and Chicago edged Detroit 24-20.