Baltimore Ravens NFL Season Preview: Will Lamar Jackson Lead Baltimore to the Lombardi trophy?

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Josh Widman
Josh graduated from Syracuse University in May 2020 with a degree in Broadcast and Digital Journalism. He played basketball and baseball in High School. Despite growing up in New Jersey, he roots for the Cleveland Browns, Cavaliers and Indians. He has two favorite sports movies: Dodgeball and Major League. Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals is his favorite sporting event of all-time and his favorite sports memory is playing in a white-out basketball game under the lights against a rival summer camp when he was 15 years old.

Josh Widman takes a look at the different betting options available on the Baltimore Ravens for the 2020 NFL season and picks out the best bets on Lamar Jackson’s men.

All odds for this article are taken from DraftKings Sportsbook, which is available in NJ, PA, WV, IN, CO, RI and now IL. Click below to register and claim your sign up bonus ahead of the new season.

Lamar Jackson took a superhuman step forward in his first full season as a starter. Jackson ran past records, finished the season as the unanimous MVP and led the Ravens to a league-best 14-2 record. Baltimore finished the regular season on a 12-game winning streak but failed to win a playoff game for the second straight season. The rich got richer over the offseason. The backfield tandem of Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram, two former Heisman Trophy winners, was already imposing. Baltimore added former Ohio State standout, J.K. Dobbins in the draft. Defensive Coordinators tasked with slowing the Baltimore rushing attack will not sleep well the night before. Baltimore also improved an already stout defense by trading for DE Calais Campbell. The Ravens are ready to make another run at the Super Bowl.

Baltimore AFC Odds (+320)

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Baltimore should only be threatened by one team in the AFC heading into this season. That team is the defending-champion Kansas City Chiefs. Since Jackson became the starter, The Ravens have faced off with the Chiefs twice. Baltimore lost both but both meetings were close and were decided by a combined eight points. The takeaway is that Baltimore can do more than hang with the champs. Tom Brady no longer being in the conference also helps the Ravens’ chances.  At the moment, Kansas City and Baltimore are in a tier of their own in the AFC.

Baltimore Win Total Over 11 (-115)

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The Ravens were 14-2 last season and have the easiest schedule this season based on opponent’s 2019 winning percentage. Baltimore went 5-1 against the AFC North last season. Ben Roethlisberger was out for both games vs the Steelers but even with him back, the Ravens are better. Baltimore faces the NFC East and the AFC South. Baltimore should be heavily favored to win the three games against Jacksonville, Washington and New York. The Texans and Colts rank in the bottom half of the league in stopping the run. Having finished in first place last year, they also face the winners of the AFC East and AFC West from last season. Jackson fared well and Ingram dominated in the previously-mentioned close loss to the Chiefs. The two dominated a New England team with Brady and an elite defense. Numerous Patriots defenders left in free agency or have already opted out of this season. The Ravens return, and even improved, a roster that finished in the top five for both total offense and total defense in 2019.

Jackson Over 26.5 Passing TDs (-110)

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It’s going to be difficult for Jackson to replicate his touchdown total from 2019. 36 of his 43 TDs were through the air. Defenses may really start to sell out to stop the run and force Jackson to throw the ball to beat them. It’s worked in the two playoff games he’s played in. Jackson jumped from completing 58% of his passes as a rookie to 66% as a sophomore. That’s a tremendous improvement over one season. Defenses selling out to stop the run will make it easier for the reigning MVP to throw. Expect Jackson to take advantage and take another step forward in his development. It would also be smart for the Ravens to limit the amount of big hits he takes. Fewer designed runs could lead to more pass attempts for Jackson.

Andrews Over 7 Receiving TDs (-110)

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TE Mark Andrews is Jackson’s clear go-to target. Andrews led the Ravens with 98 targets, 64 receptions and 10 touchdowns in 2019. Each of those leads were by wide margins. Baltimore is going to move the ball and score a lot. Andrews routinely gets open in the red zone and down by the goal line. Any increase in Jackson’s pass attempts will result in a coinciding spike in Andrews’ numbers. Jackson loves throwing to the tight end in general. In addition to Andrews, tight ends were the third and fourth leading receivers for Baltimore. One of those players is no longer on the team.  This should result in an increase in targets for Andrews.

Baltimore is one of the best teams in the NFL. That being said, the Ravens need to ensure Jackson stays healthy. If he goes down for any extended period, they’d be a drastically different team. If he is unable to play in the playoffs, they can kiss their Super Bowl hopes goodbye. Assuming he stays healthy, Jackson will contend for a second consecutive MVP award while the Ravens should have a solid chance at repeating as AFC North champs and could even win their first conference title and Super Bowl since the 2012 season. The safer bet is for Baltimore to win the AFC.

Baltimore’s odds of winning the Super Bowl are +650 at DraftKings

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