I recently completed a road trip from New York down to South Florida and back. I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the players and teams in the cities in which I stopped. First stop? North East, Maryland. Between Baltimore and Philadelphia. While at first I thought I’d be diving into the difference between their NFL teams, I found myself becoming fixated more specifically on the Ravens and their young quarterback, Lamar Jackson.
Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens are sitting atop the AFC North. Though that’s not a hard feat with that garbage division at the moment, they have proven themselves after big wins over Seattle, New England, and San Francisco. Jackson is leading the charge, with 2,889 yards, 33 TDs, 6 INTs and an 81.3 QBR.
But where he really shines is that QB option, and plays designed for him to run. He sits 8th in rushing yards in THE LEAGUE. As a quarterback. We haven’t seen that in a while. And he’s already surpassed Michael Vick’s QB rushing record.
With an average of 6.9 yards per carry, Lamar has piled up 1,103 yards and punched it 7 times. I guess putting up 59 points in Week 1 really gives you confidence to push forward, even if it is against a Dolphins team that should be relegated.
The MVP Conversation
As much as it pains me to say, my vote for MVP this year would go to Lamar Jackson. I really can’t stress enough how deeply that hurts my soul. I hate the Ravens. But this guy is the real deal.
Many questions were raised about Jackson’s legitimacy, and whether he’s a quarterback who can lead the Ravens to the promised land for years to come. Though all of that conversation seems to have tapered off. At this point, Head Coach John Harbaugh looks like a genius. Instead of working to figure out how to get Lamar to adopt his system, he’s built a brand new system around his young playmaker.
Jackson has completely transformed this offense. We will likely see Mark Ingram join him as a 1,000 yard rusher. Tight end Mark Andrews leads the team in most receiving categories. Lamar has spread the ball to 12 different receivers, nine of whom have at least one touchdown. That’s a field general right there.
How far can Lamar take them this year?
The 1 seed
A big question is can they win the Super Bowl? The biggest key to that is solidifying the number 1 seed. The only team that could steal it away from them is the Patriots. However that doesn’t look likely, as New England would need to win out, and the Ravens would need to lose out. Baltimore has the head to head if they were to finish with the same record.
Walking through Cleveland will be a different story than their first meeting this year. The Browns won that game by 15, then the very next game saw them need overtime to overcome Pittsburgh. Interestingly, they now have Cleveland and Pittsburgh again in that order. While they won’t be easy, I think they can take them both.
New England will beat Miami, but Buffalo is a strong team who still have a chance to take the AFC East.
Ultimately, the Ravens are likely to waltz into that bye week with the top seed in the AFC.
Super Bowl Bound?
If things end as they stand now, Jackson could be leading the charge against Pittsburgh or Buffalo in the Divisional Round. What they have to their advantage is home field, but they only beat the Bills by one score in the regular season. That defense is straight up nasty, so it’ll take some clever play calls to ensure the same result.
While they beat the Patriots in Week 9, doing it again will prove difficult. Bill doesn’t lose to the same team twice in one year. But their offense is about as exciting as kicking a tin can down a dirt road right now.
However Lamar could be rolling up against Kansas City, who handed them one of their two losses so far this year. They’ll definitely be looking for revenge if they play the Chiefs.
While these are just likely possibilities, we can dissect the situations a bit more closely when we get to that stage.
Super Bowl Champs?
Will Lamar Jackson hoist the Lombardi trophy this year? It’s absolutely possible. Getting through the AFC won’t be simple, and there are some unknown-to-Baltimore teams in the NFC that could stand in their way. While they’ve already beaten Seattle and SF, like NE, they would be tough to beat again. Then you have Green Bay and New Orleans. There are four 11-3 teams in the NFC right now. These playoffs are going to be wild.
Ok, I got off track a bit. There’s not much Jackson hasn’t seen this year as far as defensive schemes go. His versatility lends some likely stronger chances to the Ravens coming out of the playoffs, and Super Bowl, on top. But there’s a lot of football left to play.
What should be basically wrapped up at this point is that MVP vote. He’ll likely throw for over 3,000 yards, flirt with 40 TDs and have single digit interceptions. Add in his likely 1,200 or 1,300 yards rushing and potential of close to 10 TDs on the ground. If that doesn’t scream Most Valuable Player, I don’t know what does.
- / 11 months ago
To me, Rachel Nichols is the personification of posting a black square on Instagram.