2. Lamar Jackson
2019 stats: 10 games | 66.3 pct | 2,258 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 19 pass TD | 5 INT | 781 rush yds | 6 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost
It’s become accepted conventional wisdom that Jackson is unlike any quarterback to play the game before, but let’s not become inured to the fact that no one in recorded history has been as prolific a passer and a runner as Jackson. He’s the only player to ever top 2,200 passing yards and 700 rushing yards through his team’s first 10 games, and he’s currently on pace to finish with the kind of season line (3,600 passing yards, 1,200 rushing yards, a 66.3 percent completion rate, 30 touchdowns, eight picks and a 106.3 passer rating) that makes searchable statistical databases break down into incomprehensible boops and beeps.
On the field, this translates to Jackson being able to pick up yardage at will, like on a third-down run in the first quarter on Sunday when he politely declined Texans linebacker Jake Martin’s attempt to tackle him and instead glided for 18 yards, or on a third-quarter run when he gobbled up 39 yards before the sixth and seventh lunging grabs by Houston defenders finally brought him down. When he’s not making would-be tacklers reconsider their career goals, Jackson can be found throwing 15- and 18-yard scoring strikes that look like they were scripted by destiny.
Underrated players on every NFL team - Anthony Treash
The 2016 sixth overall pick has never had a bad season as a Baltimore Raven and has always been among the top left tackles in the NFL. In 2019, though, Stanley hasn’t just been among the best; he has been the best. Along with being the highest-graded left tackle (82.4), Stanley has recorded the highest pass-block grade among all offensive lineman (91.5). He is allowing pressure at a rate that’s 1.3% lower than any other tackle in the NFL.
Players like David Bakhtiari, Terron Armstead and Laremy Tunsil have all been known as the league’s marquee left tackles. Heck, Tunsil was a first-round pick in 2016 then traded for two more first-round picks before the start of the 2019 season. While those guys are getting the spotlight, Stanley has been better than all of them.
‘DB dinner’: How Baltimore Ravens’ Marcus Peters started a Friday night tradition with his new team - Aaron Kasinitz
Shortly after the Ravens acquired Peters in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 15, the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback suggested to the other members of the secondary that they go out for a group dinner on a Friday night. He offered to pay, too.
“Marcus comes in, and first two weeks, he says, ‘Hey, we’re having DB dinner. It’s on me,’” cornerback Marlon Humphrey said.
“For us to be able to try to do something special that we want to do, we gotta be able to mesh and gel together and communicate, and that’s on and off the field,” Peters said. “We got to be able to know how each other is feeling so we can just play fast.”
Since Marcus Peters joined the Ravens in Week 7, the Ravens rank second-best in points allowed per game (14.0) and second-best in opposing passer rating (69.6). Jared Goff, over his last 18 games (postseason included), averages a passer rating of just 78.4. For perspective, Brock Osweiler retired with a 78.0 passer rating. Lamar Jackson is on pace for most fantasy points by any quarterback in any season in NFL history and easily has the highest expectation of the week, but don’t be surprised if, for the third consecutive week, we see Robert Griffin III early in the fourth quarter.
NFL Week 12 odds, picks: 49ers beat Packers with ground game, Ravens trounce Rams thanks to improved defense - Sean Wagner-McGough
Ravens -3 at Rams
The Ravens are the most complete team in football right now and the Rams are only just barely alive in the playoff picture. It feels like a steal to be getting the Ravens at -3.
The Ravens have covered in their past four games, a stretch that has seen them morph into the league’s best team. We all know about their offense with MVP frontrunner Lamar Jackson, but it’s their surprisingly resurgent defense that is just as big of a reason why I like the Ravens to beat the Rams by more than a field goal. Since allowing the Browns to hang 40 on them in their final game of September, the Ravens are allowing only 16 points per game. They just stifled Deshaun Watson. A month ago, they limited the Seahawks to 16 points. So this isn’t just a case of the Ravens beating up on bad teams.
But on [Monday], the Ravens will have a chance to beat up on a bad offense. By DVOA, the Rams’ offense ranks 20th. Jared Goff has already thrown 10 interceptions this season, with three of them coming in the past two weeks. And he was fortunate to avoid a pick-six against the Bears this past weekend when Kyle Fuller failed to come down with what would’ve been a game-changing play. I think he could be in for a nightmare against a Ravens defense that has racked up seven takeaways in the past three weeks. Opposing quarterbacks have accumulated a 79.5 passer rating against the Ravens. Only the Patriots and 49ers have allowed lower passer ratings.
And we know what we’re getting out of Jackson. That much is a given. The Rams have a top-10 defense by DVOA, but they should be no match for the league’s most dynamic player who took down the league’s top defense a couple weeks ago in remarkably easy fashion.
I’ll take the Ravens to win in a landslide.