Lamar Jackson is a Juggernaut and Increases his NFL MVP Odds
As I settled into my seat in section 547 at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, I was hopeful for the Houston Texans, but questioned what would be the outcome of the game. One thing I was certain of is that with the two most
dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL going at it, I would get a great game to watch.
I was half right.
Lamar Jackson was, well, simply brilliant with sidearm slings out to running backs, effective use of tight ends, and dazzling runs. The end result was a magnificent 17-for-24, 222 yards, four TD passing performance. He also rushed nine times for 86 yards including one scramble that made Whitney Mercilus, one of the better and more underrated defensive players in the game, scanning the field for the athletic supporter he had just been juked out of. The performance moved Jackson to a 7-2 favorite to win the MVP award. A couple weeks ago, we asked if the Baltimore signal caller would be able to maintain his momentum out of the bye. In the two games since a week off, he’s combined to go 32-for-41 passing for 445 yards, seven touchdowns, no interceptions, has only been sacked once, and has run the ball 16 times for 151 yards. For what it is to watch on TV, is even more brilliant in person.
(Side note: I think I’m done going to games in Baltimore. It’s a nice stadium with generally good fans and incredibly reasonable concession prices. The teams I’ve rooted for in two games there have also been outscored 61-10. It is one of the best homefield advantages in the NFL.)
Best SportBook 2019
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What Happened to Deshaun Watson and his NFL MVP Odds
Looking at the other sideline, Deshaun Watson looked like someone who was trying to prove he belonged in the MVP race and fell flat on his face in doing so. Seven times to be exact. Ok, maybe he didn’t “fall” on his face, but he was introduced to the ground seven times by Ravens’ defenders. In trying to make the dazzling play, he was the antithesis of everything that put him in this column in the first place. He held the ball too long, he locked on receivers, he made low risk throws that caused turnovers.
In a performance that saw him try too hard to stay in the conversation, he took himself out of it. In fact, the only reason he’s getting this much ink is that Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers were on byes and I needed something to write about. Following a solid, but not spectacular performance against Jacksonville, a bye, and this clunker on Sunday, he’ll need a Herculean effort against the Colts to warrant discussion in next week’s column.
As we turn our attention to week 12, not that he needs any help, but Jackson appears to have the most favorable matchup with a Monday night game in Los Angeles. Yes, Aaron Donald isn’t a fun matchup for any quarterback to have to face, but the remainder of the Rams defense hasn’t been stellar this season.
The numbers may not be as gaudy as they’ve been the past two weeks, but they should keep him in the top spot nonetheless. Wilson should have a decent day against an underperforming Eagles team, despite coming west to east as the Seahawks are 13-5-1 in their last 19 games ATS when traveling to the Eastern Time Zone. Rodgers faces a challenge with a Sunday night contest in San Francisco. If he can perform well there, he should be in it until the end.
NFL MVP Odds
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