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Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes ahead of playoff matchup with Ravens' Lamar Jackson: 'He's going to be the MVP for a reason'

Sunday's AFC Championship Game marks the first time in NFL history two former league MVPs both under the age of 30 will face off in a playoff game.

Patrick Mahomes and his reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs head to Baltimore to face Lamar Jackson and the No. 1 seeded Ravens in a showdown for the AFC crown.

During Championship Wednesday news conferences, both quarterbacks talked up the other's special gifts.

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"He's going to be the MVP for a reason," Mahomes said of Jackson, projecting the Baltimore quarterback to win the award for 2023. "He goes out there, he leads his team, he scores, he runs, he throws. He does whatever it takes to win, and that's what the greats do."

If Jackson wins Most Valuable Player this season, Sunday will have been the third-ever playoff matchup between the reigning MVP and the current season MVP (Mahomes won in 2022). Others include the 2018 AFC Championship between reigning MVP Tom Brady (won) and soon-to-be MVP Mahomes, and the 1995 Divisional Round between reigning MVP Steve Young and Brett Favre (won).

Jackson was asked what he likes about competing against a two-time MVP in Mahomes.

"I don't like competing against him at all," he laughed. "He's a great quarterback. Definite Hall of Famer. That's a no-brainer. He's definitely a Hall of Famer. I believe it's just two greats, two up-and-coming greats going toe to toe like a heavyweight fight. Heavyweight matchup, that's what I see."

Were he to take home the MVP award, Jackson would become the second-youngest player (and the youngest QB) to win multiple MVP awards in a career -- Jackson turned 27 the day after Baltimore's final regular season game (Jan. 7th). only Jim Brown won multiple MVP awards at a younger age (22 years, 300 days).

Under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, Jackson has taken his passing game to new heights. His ability to buy time and find open receivers has been spectacular this season. Jackson keeping his eyes downfield and still owning the ability to gash on the ground whenever he wants makes defending the quarterback a nightmare.

Mahomes, noting Jackson "developed as a passer," believes facing another MVP quarterback ramps up the pressure from his side to be perfect.

"It's challenging. The way he's able to just be a competitor and score the football, obviously, and then their entire team," Mahomes said. "It's a tall task. You've got to go out there and play your best football, and if you make any mistakes it seems like the game's going to go the other way. We've been able to play in a couple games, not in a few years now, but I've admired watching him from afar and know that it's gonna be a great challenge for us every time we go up against him."

Added Mahomes: "I knew we were gonna play in a lot of games like this as our careers have gone on, and I'm sure this will be the first of many."

The Chiefs have won three of four matchups against Jackson's Ravens -- Baltimore took the last tilt, 36-35, in 2021 at M&T Bank Stadium. Sunday marks the first playoff meeting between Mahomes and Jackson.

Jackson knows the path to a Super Bowl goes through the defending champs.

"That's why I have to focus on the AFC Championship and not the Super Bowl," he said. "We can't overshadow what's in front of us right now. Not at all. Those guys are the former Super Bowl champions. To be a champion, you've got to go through a champion. That's pretty much the mindset."

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