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Breaking Down Lamar Jackson’s MVP Odds

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Much of winning the MVP is based on a narrative that surrounds a player’s season. For example, in 2020, Aaron Rodgers had a sort of scorched-earth season fueled by the Green Bay Packers drafting Jordan Love.

Not only did Rogers have a dominant statistical season, but he was able to have control over the storylines as he destroyed defense after defense as a sort of middle finger to the Green Bay front office. Similarly, dynamos in 2018 Patrick Mahomes and 2019 Lamar Jackson burst onto the scene and were such revelations that they ran away with MVPs.

Not every year requires a narrative, but a narrative does nothing but help players in their quest to win MVP. Look no further than Lamar Jackson entering the 2021 season.

As of right now in the off-season, there is little buzz around Jackson. Most of the media has figured out Jackson is a generally top-10 quarterback with a wicked weekly upside that puts him in the top five. While he does have some down weeks, usually against the Pittsburgh Steelers or Kansas City Chiefs, he is generally one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL.

If Jackson can sustain a high level of play each week, he would overachieve the current expectations laid out for him. Similar to his romp to the 2019 MVP, this exceeding of expectations could propel Jackson to winning his second MVP.

BALTIMORE, MD – AUGUST 14: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up before a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at M&T Bank Stadium on August 14, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Why has the Narrative Shifted?

For Jackson’s career in the NFL, there has always been some level of doubt. In 2018, there was doubt if Jackson was even a quarterback. In 2019, there was doubt as to whether Jackson could lead the Baltimore Ravens to a winning season.

Last season, the doubt shifted to Jackson’s ability to perform in clutch moments or the playoffs. Jackson has answered the call in each regard, overachieving to some degree in each season.

Entering 2020, there is little doubt surrounding Jackson. From time to time, a media member will mention that Jackson could be “found out,” but outside of this media speak, the concrete on Jackson’s career is beginning to dry. However, Jackson still holds the key to breaking out of this concrete and setting a new mold for himself.

For Jackson, there are three key factors in his quest for a second MVP:

Competition

Perhaps the biggest influence on Jackson’s unanimous MVP in 2019 was the lack of a true standout candidate to compete with Jackson. Only Russell Wilson seemed to have a chance, but he received zero votes in the end.

In 2020, there was a solid argument that three different quarterbacks had a season that was at least of the caliber of Jackson’s 2019 season. If Jackson gets a similarly weak cast of MVP candidates in 2021, he could have a strong case of winning MVP.

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK – JANUARY 16: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens runs with the ball during the first quarter of an AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium on January 16, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images)

Outlandish Production

While Jackson has rushed for more than 1,000 yards each of the last two seasons, this narrative has generally run its course. For Jackson to make a compelling MVP case, he would likely have to overachieve with his passing statistics. He did this in 2019, leading the NFL in passing touchdowns and posting a historically dominant 9.0% touchdown rate.

If Jackson were to exceed his passing yards and passing touchdown projections, that could be enough of a boost to his MVP candidacy. Other quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen have much more lofty expectations based on their passing stats.

To use 2019 Mahomes as an example, it was unlikely for him to repeat as MVP unless he outproduced his 2018 statistical brilliance. As dominant as Mahomes has been in his three years as a starter, no quarterback has replicated a 50-touchdown season, and few have been able to replicate a 5,000-yard passing season.

Jumping back to the narrative-driven approach of some MVP awards, this is the reason why it is difficult for players to win consecutive MVPs. Look at the NBA for a moment: Giannis Antetokounmpo had a nearly impossible quest of winning his third consecutive MVP in 2021.

He was so dominant in both 2019 and 2020 that he had nearly nothing left to prove in the regular season. Antetokounmpo would’ve had to have the most ridiculous of seasons to garner enough MVP consideration to win his third consecutive. Even in the NFL, no player has won back-to-back MVPs since Peyton Manning did it in 2008 and 2009.

Team Dominance

While one could go in the direction of the Ravens beating the Chiefs as a key bonus for Jackson’s MVP candidacy, keep in mind that the Ravens and Chiefs square off in Week 2. By the time the dust settles in the MVP race, it will have been more than three months since Jackson played against Kansas City. Even if the Ravens were to lose in that game or if Jackson looks particularly poor, voters would have three months of Jackson not playing Chiefs in contrast.

If one looks at Jackson’s performance in 2019 and 2020, his poor games tend to pool at the beginning of the season. Jackson’s three worst performances of 2020 were in Week 3, Week 4, and Week 5. By the time MVP consideration rolled around, many had forgotten about Jackson’s early-season stinkers.

Similarly, in 2020, Jackson’s albatross games came in Week 3 against the Chiefs and Week 8 against the Steelers. If not for a Covid outbreak within the Ravens that cost Jackson the second Steelers game, he could have parlayed a late-season run into fringe MVP consideration.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – JANUARY 10: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after running for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs at Nissan Stadium on January 10, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

For Jackson to win the MVP in 2021, the Ravens would have to be in contention for the top seed in the AFC and post one of the best records in the NFL. Since 2010, there have been more http://www.slaterpharmacy.com pills quarterbacks to win MVP off the back of a 15-1 regular season (2011 Rodgers, 2015 Cam Newton) than players to win the MVP while not securing a first-round bye (2012 Adrian Peterson, 2014 Rodgers).

The Ravens are capable of competing in the upper echelon of the AFC, but they do have one of the more difficult schedules in football. Particularly at the end of the season. The Ravens face a bevy of potential playoff teams. They play the Browns twice, Steelers twice, Rams, and Packers in the last seven games of the season.

This run of games could serve as a springboard for Jackson to win the MVP like in 2019, or it could be the nail in the coffin that marks the second consecutive season that Jackson did not win the MVP. In 2019, Jackson and the Ravens defeated future playoff teams in the New England Patriots, Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, and San Francisco 49ers in the 12-game winning streak that ended their season. If the Ravens could conjure up a spectacular finish to the 2021 season, Jackson could slide into late-season MVP talk.

The Odds

For many sportsbooks, Jackson is between a +1600 and +1800 bet for the MVP. He is generally ranked between the No.5 and No.7 best odds.

Thanks for reading my article on Lamar Jackson. This is the third one I have written this offseason. Check out his MVP narratives and myth verification. For more content, follow me @mrsplashman19 and follow the OTH Football page.

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Main Image Credit

CLEVELAND, OHIO – DECEMBER 22: A Baltimore Ravens fan holds a sign reading “Lamar Jackson for President” after the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Ravens defeated the Browns 31-15. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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Ryan Potts is an avid football and baseball fan. He covers the NFL and Major League Baseball, focusing on the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Braves.