Lamar Jackson Makes His MVP Case
Two TDs and a dominant win
Heading into the San Francisco 49ers’ Monday Night Football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Brock Purdy was the MVP favorite in the Vegas books. His odds were insanely high at -274, which means the markets priced him as having a 73.3% chance of winning. Let’s not get it twisted: Brock Purdy is a good quarterback. He is solidly above average. But the flaws in his game have always been perceptible. He forces passes when there’s nothing open. He makes mistakes under pressure. He has just rarely been under pressure, and there has usually been someone open.
Purdy’s two worst games were against the Browns in Week 6 and against the Ravens this week. The Niners lost both. The Browns and the Ravens ranks first and second respectively in most defensive statistics, including in EPA (estimated points added) per pass play. Seeing how good the Ravens and Browns are and how flawed the other AFC contenders are, it is likely the Niners will have to face one of them again if they make it to the Super Bowl.
Lamar Jackson was second in the MVP odds going into the game (+500 / 16.7%), and Christian McCaffrey was third (+900 / 10.0%). Jackson will move up to number one with his stellar play in the decisive win. But McCaffrey deserves some consideration even though he was on the losing side. He showed he can still play an excellent game against a tough team even when his quarterback struggles. But the fact that they lost despite his good play will be held against him by those voters who emphasize the “valuable” in MVP.
It’s kind of unfair and counterintuitive, but it might have been better for CMC in terms of his slim MVP chances if he had performed poorly. How valuable can he be if they lose even when he plays well? At least he must be a lock for Offensive Player of the Year.
If you look at just the passing stats (pre-Week 16), Purdy has the best numbers, but he also has the best weapons and coach helping him, and he struggled against the best defenses.
Now let’s add rushing stats:
Jackson is leading the league in rushing yards by a non-RB, and he’s leading all MVP contenders in yards per rush. His biggest problem is his fumbling. He put the ball on the ground seven times in the first five games. But he has improves lately; he has only fumbled once in the plast five games.
In this win, his value-added from rushing was on display. At the end of the first half, he avoided a clear sack from Chase Young and then ran all over the field for ~30 yards, setting up the Ravens for a last-second field goal that looked like it would have been important at that point when the game was still close.
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What do you think? Should the MVP always go to the player who is “most valuable”? Should it always go to a quarterback? Who should win offensive player of the year: CMC or Tyreek Hill?