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Reviewing Lamar Jackson’s meteoric rise to MVP frontrunner

We take a look at how Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s MVP odds rose throughout the year.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson before a AFC Divisional Round playoff football game against the Titans. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was named 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player Saturday evening at the NFL Honors program. He is just the second player to ever earn unanimous MVP honors.

The dynamic quarterback deconstructed the opinions of a lot of critics to get here. The Louisville product overcame criticism regarding his arm strength, intelligence, and the ability of a team to build a system around him. Now he has taken home the most coveted individual player award in the NFL just a year removed from a solid rookie campaign.

Jackson was viewed by many as a long shot coming into the season, but that swung rapidly. let’s break down how his MVP odds have fluctuated throughout the year on DraftKings Sportsbook.

Low expectations

Jackson developed into a fan favorite in his rookie year, after he dethroned Joe Flacco to become Baltimore’s starting quarterback. He was the driving force behind the Ravens’ 10-6 finish, which was good enough for them to claim the top spot in the AFC North. He used his legs much more than any conventional signal caller, but his inconsistency as a thrower saw him bounced from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Chargers in the Wild Card Round.

Jackson opened the 2019 preseason with +6600 odds to win MVP. He was ranked even with Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, but behind Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and New England Saints running back Alvin Kamara (both +6000). All that changed after Week 1 though, as Jackson teased spectators with his bag of new tricks.

Not bad for a running back

Jackson shocked the world in Week 1. Although his first game of the 2019 season was a 59-10 victory against the abysmal Miami Dolphins, his brilliance couldn’t be denied. The second-year quarterback rolled out new-and-improved touch and threw for 324 yards and five touchdowns on 17-of-20 passing. He only ran the ball three times and totaled six yards. This performance alone cause Jackson’s MVP odds to skyrocket to +2200 heading into Week 2. He still trailed Tom Brady, reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson, but managed to assert himself among a group who have been considered elite. Jackson’s iconic postgame interview addressed those who thought he should play running back or wide receiver in the NFL because of so-called questions about his quarterback skills in a humorous way that set the internet ablaze.

The calm before the storm

The “Action Jackson” hype didn’t die down in Week 2 after the Ravens edged out the Arizona Cardinals 23-17. Jackson’s odds improved to +1400 after he threw for 272 yards and two scores while also running for 120 yards against Arizona. His ability to scramble resurfaced, making him look even more dangerous. But what came in the following weeks caused his odds to rise. Baltimore lost in Weeks 3 and 4, falling short to the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns. Jackson threw for 609 yards and three scores during that two-game losing streak, putting his MVP odds at +2500 ahead of Week 5. But then Baltimore really hit its stride.

An incredible run

Jackson’s odds jumped to +3000 after Week 5, despite his win against the Steelers on the road. That was the highest they reached since before the regular season though, as the Ravens steamrolled their competition for the remainder of the season. Baltimore rattled off 12 straight wins. During this stretch, Jackson threw for at least four touchdowns on three separate contests. He also crossed the century mark on the ground three times.

This run also resulted in this gift from running back Mark Ingram, who frequently proclaimed that Jackson was the best of the best throughout the season.

By the end of Week 16, Jackson’s MVP odds were a ridiculous -10000. The next closest candidate was Russell Wilson (+2000) at that point. It was a one horse race.

The Postseason

Although Jackson and company dominated the competition during the regular season, his banged up squad was upset by the Tennessee Titans in the Divisional Round. Jackson threw for a season high 365 yards and a score while rushing for 143 yards in his final performance of the year, but untimely Ravens injuries, Derrick Henry’s persistent rushing attack, and the Titans’ trickery on offense turned out to be too much for him to overcome. Jackson continued to impress in the 2020 Pro Bowl by becoming the youngest player to ever start at quarterback in the event at 21 years of age. He also claimed MVP honors after throwing for 185 yards and two scores. He might not be playing for the Vince Lombardi trophy, but the future is bright for Jackson and the Ravens.

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