Jackson’s the real deal

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If you watched, it won’t be too difficult to remember what Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson accomplished in his Monday Night debut a decade or two from now.

If he’s ever standing next to his bust in Canton, you’ll be able to pretty quickly call up the memory of watching him make football look like a video game against the defending NFC champion Rams, putting a serious damper on their hopes of returning to the playoffs.

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He completed 15 passes out of just 20, but five went for touchdowns. He gained 95 yards to continue closing in on 1,000 for the season, but only took off eight times. Jackson led Baltimore to 45-6 victory at the Los Angeles Coliseum, toying with a defense that featured the league’s top defensive lineman and arguably the game’s top corner.

On Tuesday morning, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook made the Ravens the Super Bowl favorite for the first time, shifting the odds to 3-1. Jackson is now a 1-3 favorite to win the NFL’s MVP.

It’s certainly starting to feel like Baltimore is on to something that the rest of the league won’t be able to adjust to in time to prevent the Ravens from winning their third championship.

The Ravens are taking control of games as soon as they start and will be favored in every game going forward, which means they’ve got a shot at home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs if they can get some help over the next six weeks with someone haningNew England a second loss.

A formidable 49ers team will visit Baltimore this weekend in the one game I can see the Ravens losing, given the distraction of a holiday week and the fact they had to fly back across the country to begin preparations for the league’s other 10-1 team on a short week. For that reason, I’m recommending that you don’t jump on Jackson’s team to win it all just yet despite his dominance, because there might be better odds to be had over the next few weeks.

If the Ravens handle their business against San Francisco on Sunday I’d recommend you ride them immediately if you’re a believer in Jackson and what your eyes have seen thus far since I don’t think anyone else on their schedule has a shot to knock them off.

If Jackson doesn’t have to go on the road this postseason, it would be hard to convince me Baltimore won’t be going to the Super Bowl considering the issues the Pats had trying to keep him contained and the fact Tom Brady is attempting to win one more title without an elite receiver to throw to.

What the Ravens are accomplishing is no fluke. The former Heisman Trophy winner is simply emerging as perhaps the greatest dual-threat quarterback ever, blessed with blazing speed and an arm that he’s trained to make sharp, accurate throws in order to take advantage of the concessions defenses must make to account for his ability to escape the pocket. 

A few weeks ago we wondered whether the AFC had anyone outside the Chiefs capable of spoiling another New England run to the Super Bowl. I picked Baltimore to pull off that Sunday night Week 9 upset but I’m surprised that it has continued to find new levels of dominance. Time to see whether the Ravens can claim the 49ers as their latest victim, truly climbing into the Super Bowl driver’s seat.


Bills at Cowboys -6.5: Amari Cooper dominated last Thanksgiving but comes off getting shut out by the Pats’ secondary in a driving rainstorm in Foxborough. Getting indoors should help but he’s been banged up and will have to overcome elite corner Tre’Davious White, who won’t make anything easy. BILLS


49ers at Ravens -6: Jackson will try to turn another highly effective defense into swiss cheese but figures to have at least one tough hurdle ahead. For the reason detailed above, this spot is as good as any to forecast some turbulence, although I don’t see the Ravens faltering at home. Baltimore should avoid the upset but won’t cover. 49ERS

Redskins at Panthers -10: Dwayne Haskins picked up his first victory as starting quarterback but won’t have another win to be thankful for at week’s end. This is an awful spot for Washington with Christian McCaffrey coming in with such great numbers at home. Look for a lopsided result. PANTHERS

Jets -3.5 at Bengals: Winless Cincinnati is turning the offense back over to Andy Dalton, having seen enough of rookie Ryan Finley’s inconsistency. Unfortunately, A.J. Green isn’t returning, which doesn’t bode well for Dalton’s chances of matching a suddenly hot Sam Darnold. JETS

Eagles -9.5 at Dolphins: Carson Wentz is in a slump and his depleted receiving corps isn’t helping matters at all. Even with Miami’s roster trimmed down to a bare minimum, laying this many points on the road when Philly’s offense is clearly broken isn’t advisable. DOLPHINS

Raiders at Chiefs -9.5: Derek Carr got pulled last week, but you can expect him to rebound in order to give Oakland a chance at Arrowhead. Patrick Mahomes has had to bail out his defense multiple times this season and will do so again. Kansas City should avoid the upset but won’t cover. RAIDERS

Last week: 3-3

Season: 32-39

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About the Author
Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia

Tony Mejia has been a national writer for nearly two decades and has covered NBA and college basketball as a columnist, analyst, handicapper, and bracketologist for CBS Sports, Pro Basketball News, and numerous other sites.

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