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2022 NFL MVP odds and pick: Why you should bet on Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson wants to get paid. And he wants to get you paid, too.

The latter isn’t directly on his mind as his contract negotiations consume some extra attention ahead of the final year of his rookie deal. He’s earned every penny coming his way: just three years ago, he dazzled with a combined 4,333 yards and 43 touchdowns to become just the second unanimous MVP in league history.

Jackson isn’t sneaking up on defenses anymore. But he seems to be sneaking up on bettors ahead of the 2022 season, dealing at +2000 to win his second MVP award. That ranks a distant 10th on the board at BetMGM and fifth among the six former MVP winners on an active roster.

You simply haven’t been paying attention if you don’t think Jackson is motivated by all the outside noise. And as we saw three years ago, a motivated Jackson is a terrifying sight for opposing defenses – and a profitable one for bettors.

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Lamar Jackson’s MVP odds and case to win again

When Jackson entered his sophomore season in 2019, it was in vogue to cast aspersions about his ability to play quarterback at a high level. He was coming off a rookie year in which he completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes, and defenses seemed to figure him out by the postseason when he suffered one of the worst performances of his career in a loss to the Chargers.

That following summer, Jackson was dealing as high as 60-1 to win MVP despite his electrifying speed and cannon arm. How’d that turn out? The Ravens passer led the NFL in passing touchdowns (36) and QBR (83) and ranked third in passer rating (113.3) while carrying Baltimore to the NFL’s best record (14-2).

Lamar Jackson showing off his wheels
Lamar Jackson
Getty Images

Here we are again after a lackluster year for Jackson, who missed five games in a 2021 season plagued by illness and injury. It was a similar story for his supporting cast — the Ravens’ offensive line was a mess, and their top three running backs all suffered season-ending injuries before Week 1. It’s impossible to overstate how devastating those injuries were for an offense predicated on historic rushing production.

Is all of that really enough to change our priors? Jackson entered 2021 as a top-five MVP candidate at most books; now, he’s a distant afterthought. In the meantime, Baltimore invested heavily in an O-line that should be one of the best in the league, while a healthy J.K. Dobbins will jolt this renewed rushing attack.

Jackson will ultimately lead the way, and he’s got a legitimate shot to break his record for rushing yards by a quarterback (1,206) set in that 2019 MVP season. This team has never been shy about chasing history, which certainly wouldn’t hurt Jackson’s case at the negotiating table, either.

Lamar Jackson making tacklers miss
Lamar Jackson scrambling
Getty Images

Purely from a football perspective, Jackson is a prime candidate to bounce back in a big way after his lackluster 2021 campaign. Yet it’s impossible to ignore the noise surrounding his contract situation – for him or us.

The Ravens simply haven’t shelled out the big bucks in an offseason defined by mammoth quarterback extensions, and Jackson hasn’t exactly been quiet about it. He sat out voluntary workouts earlier this summer, and he showed up to training camp looking like a Herculean caricature of himself – adding 15 pounds of muscle over the offseason to spark a wave of viral memes about his physique.

At the same time, he briefly changed his social media headers to a picture with the phrase “I NEED $” prominently displayed. Two weeks later, an anonymous NFL coordinator declared that Jackson could win 12 MVPs but would never be a “Tier 1” quarterback – which, fittingly, became a news cycle unto itself.

We’ve seen this before. Jackson was the brunt of jokes in NFL circles before quieting the intelligentsia with a record-setting season as an MVP long shot. Even if he inks a deal before the season, the doubts about his Tier 1 status bona fides will only intensify, which would further fuel Jackson and this high-octane Baltimore offense.

Betting on the NFL?

It takes team wins to secure MVP honors, and the Ravens are tied for the league’s fourth-highest win total (10.5) at BetMGM. Dobbins and former first-round pick Rashod Bateman are arguably the most talented teammates that Jackson has had in his five seasons in Baltimore, while a revamped secondary should mean playing less catch-up for the Ravens after a season riddled with close losses.

It’s all set up for a similar script to the one we saw in 2019 when the dual-threat star answered serious doubts with one of the best offensive seasons we’ve ever seen. An encore would net a massive payday for Jackson – and for bettors, too.

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