The 1-0 Baltimore Ravens broke all sorts of records in their 59-10 drubbing of the Miami Dolphins Sunday afternoon. With 42 points through the first two quarters, the Ravens topped their franchise mark for points in a first half and set the new NFL record for points in the first half of a season opener.
Finishing with 59 points and 643 yards of offense, Baltimore also set franchise records in those categories.
While the Dolphins looked unprepared in their first game under head coach Brian Flores, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was the shining star in this contest with five touchdown passes. Of those TDs, two of them went to first-round draft pick Marquise Brown, who scored from 47 and 83 yards out.
In total, Jackson went 17 for 20 with 324 yards and those five touchdowns.
With a 9-for-9 start that included four of his TDs, Jackson and the Ravens offense put the game out of reach for Miami very early on. After Brown’s two touchdown receptions, Jackson completed touchdown passes to Willie Snead, Miles Boykin, and Patrick Ricard.
Now, as the Ravens look ahead to a Week 2 showdown with Arizona in Baltimore, the NFL is wondering if Jackson is a legitimate candidate for MVP in 2019.
Credit Jackson, Or Blame the Dolphins?
Sure, Jackson had an impressive game that included a mixture of great decision-making and accuracy down the field. However, this performance came against a franchise in full rebuild mode.
At 500/1, Miami has the worst odds in the NFL to win the Super Bowl. The Dolphins trail the likes of Washington (300/1), Arizona (300/1), and Cincinnati (200/1).
Miami also entered the season with the line set at 4.5 for its win total, further displaying the projected weakness throughout the roster. Coming into Sunday’s game, the Ravens were a 6.5-point favorite over the Dolphins.
So, should we credit Jackson for a five-touchdown performance, or should we write it off to the lack of talent Jackson faced? Probably both.
While we have to take the level of competition into account when looking at Jackson’s big game, we also saw a quarterback that was accurate with the football on short, intermediate and long passes.
At the very least, Jackson proved he can win an NFL game with his arm, which was in question after a tough playoff loss against the Chargers left a bad taste in the mouth of analysts regarding Jackson’s throwing ability.
Either way, there’s no denying Jackson had one of the top performances of the NFL’s opening week. So, is Jackson a legitimate MVP candidate?
The NFL’s MVP Candidates
Before the start of the season, Jackson was paired with Jared Goff for MVP odds with +3300. While that put Jackson ahead of the league’s top running backs in Ezekiel Elliott (+5000), Alvin Kamara (+5000), and Christian McCaffrey (+5000), Jackson is behind the likes of Mitchell Trubisky (+2800) and Russell Wilson (+2500).
In total, 14 other quarterbacks started the year with better MVP odds than Jackson.
At the top of the list, Patrick Mahomes (+500) is the heavy favorite to repeat as MVP in 2019. Mahomes is followed by Carson Wentz at +900, Aaron Rodgers at +1200, and Baker Mayfield at +1200.
With two games still to be played Monday night, Jackson leads the NFL with his five passing touchdowns. However, seven quarterbacks racked up more yardage through the air than Jackson.
Both Andy Dalton (418 yards) and Dak Prescott (405 yards) broke the 400-yard mark, while Jackson threw for 324 yards. However, Jackson can claim the lead among all quarterbacks with his 16.2 average yards per pass attempt.
At the moment, Jackson kicks off the 2019 season with a head start due to his five-touchdown performance against the rebuilding Dolphins. While the MVP award is certainly within the realm of possibility for Jackson, he’ll have to come close to replicating his Week 1 performance over the next couple of games before we put him in the group of MVP favorites.