Updated: Nov 6
The Baltimore Ravens are currently 2-1 following Week Three’s 37-26 win against the New England Patriots. The Ravens are now tied with the Cleveland Browns for the best record in the AFC North. The reason for the Raven's spectacular start is due to the invigorating play of their megastar quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson has been otherworldly thus far this season; from leading the league in passing touchdowns (10), to completing 63.6% of his passes, to ranking top five in rushing yards with 243 on the season, with an average of 9.3 yards per carry and 81 yards per game! He also has a 119 passer rating according to Next Gen Stats (https://nextgenstats.nfl.com/stats/passing#yards).
Jackson is betting on himself big after he and the Ravens failed to agree upon a contract extension for the star quarterback, something I covered prior to the season (https://www.djssportsshow.com/post/will-lamar-jackson-the-ravens-come-up-with-an-extension). He is even better now than during his unanimous MVP season in 2019-20.
From making better reads in the pocket to improving as a thrower, Jackson has been proving to the Ravens’ organization that he is worth a guaranteed contract like we’ve seen Kyler Murray and Deshaun Watson receive this offseason from their respective franchises. Murray received $160 million guaranteed with a $230.5 million deal in total from the Arizona Cardinals, and Watson signed a $230 million fully guaranteed deal with the Browns.
This past weekend, Jackson simply annihilated Bill Belichick’s Patriots’ defense for four passing touchdowns on 218 yards, and rushed for his second consecutive 100+ rushing yard game with a touchdown, scoring a final blow to the Patriots’ hopes of coming back. With just over three minutes remaining, Jackson slithered his way through the defensive on 3rd & 1 at the Patriot’s nine-yard line to push the Ravens’ five-point 31-26 lead to eleven to make it a 37-26 ball game, giving the Patriots no type of chance to win the game.
The fact that Jackson is betting on himself and is producing the way he has thus far throughout the first three weeks of the NFL season is mystical. Jackson has the fourth-best odds to win the MVP at +700 behind Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, and Jalen Hurts, according to Sports Betting Dime (https://www.sportsbettingdime.com/nfl/mvp-odds/).
All are well deserving as potential favorites for winning the award, but none are currently playing at the transcendent level that Jackson is and doing it with fewer weapons on the offensive end, as well as a defense that is lackluster, to say the least, allowing the most passing yards, completions, and attempts through Week Three, according to Lineups (https://www.lineups.com/nfl-team-rankings/defense). The Ravens’ defense also is 25th in touchdowns allowed, that is what Jackson has had to overcome.
Is it sustainable? We will have to see as the season continues to unfold, but one thing is for certain: Jackson is on a mission to prove to the Ravens that he is worth a massive contract worth even more than what Murray and Watson received and he is proving that he is the best player in the league.