Lamar Jackson Still Has More To Prove Against The Cardinals

Jackson had an eye-popping performance in Week 1, but must ride the wave into Week 2

  • Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens throttled the Miami Dolphins 59-10 on the road and he threw five touchdown passes, one less than he did all of last season.

Week 1 Dominance

Heading into the 2019-20 season, Lamar Jackson was underrated and relatively misunderstood. Even as Jackson entered the 2018 NFL Draft, many vocalized their concerns over the former Heisman winner’s abilities as a quarterback. Now after a stunning Week 1 performance versus the Miami Dolphins, Jackson was able to silence the critics, or at least change the narrative.

On Sunday, Jackson went 17-of-20 passing for 324 yards and five touchdowns. This came after a 2018 regular season in which Jackson only threw for six touchdowns, leading many to doubt that the then-rookie quarterback could throw the ball. In seven starts last season, he averaged 17 rushing attempts per game. In the season opener, Jackson only ran the ball three times for six yards. That was one way to get the point across. 

The Week 1 romp resulted in a 158.3 quarterback rating for Jackson, which was notable. It made Jackson the youngest player in NFL history to post a perfect passer rating and the first to do so in a season opener. Has he arrived? The naysayers will say wait and see, but his dismantling of an admittedly subpar Dolphins team cannot go unnoticed. 

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Jackson Vs. Murray

The Ravens will host the Arizona Cardinals at home on Sunday afternoon. Two interesting trends that BetQL notes are that John Harbaugh is 66-16 coaching as a home favorite and 66-24 in home games coached in Baltimore overall. When you consider that Arizona is 0-4-1 SU in their last five games, while Baltimore is 5-1 SU, it makes the moneyline (Ravens -760) seem like a solid bet. 

The consensus point total is now at 46.5-points after opening at 41.5-points, showing a 5-point line movement, the most so far out of any Week 2 matchup. 

Of course, the main focus of this matchup will be the potential shootout between Jackson and rookie Kyler Murray. In Murray’s debut against the Detroit Lions, he threw 54 passes, completing 29 for 308 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Looking past those stats, where Murray impressed was in his fourth-quarter comeback that led the Cardinals-Lions to a 27-27 tie. The Cardinals were down 24-6 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, before Murray led three scoring drives to force the game into overtime. 

It will be fascinating to see how this matchup plays out.

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AFC North Outlook

Per DraftKings, Baltimore currently has +175 odds to win the AFC North Division, followed closely by the Pittsburgh Steelers (+180) and Cleveland Browns (+188). The Steelers are coming off of a 33-3 loss to the New England Patriots, while the Cleveland Browns fell 43-13 to the Tennessee Titans. Unsurprisingly, the Cincinnati Bengals (+2200) are long shots to win the division even after a close matchup between the Seattle Seahawks in their opener. The potentially overhyped Browns did not start the season as expected, and the Steelers do not seem to be on solid ground. As the only team in the division currently 1-0, the divisional outlook for the Ravens is off to a perfect start.

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While Jackson is not expected to have a five-touchdown performance every week moving forward, he has definitely proved that Baltimore’s offense is on the rise. The explosive performance in Miami also resulted in Baltimore’s Super Bowl odds improving from +3300 to +2500.

If Jackson delivers again in Week 2, the overall perception of him and the Ravens will only continue to demand more respect.