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NFL odds: Lamar Jackson had a special 2019, but regression baked into his 2020 odds at BetMGM

Frank Schwab
·3-min read

Lamar Jackson took over the NFL world last season.

Even though Patrick Mahomes ended up winning the Super Bowl, Jackson established himself as the most dynamic athlete in American sports. He set an NFL record for single-season rushing yards for a quarterback and also led the NFL in passing touchdowns. That combination seems impossible. Jackson’s historic season landed him on the cover of “Madden 21”, a sign of his celebrity.

Jackson is entering his third season and we like to believe that all young players are bound to improve year after year. The odds on the prop bets concerning Jackson at BetMGM indicate he might pass for more yards, but that the touchdown total — and his NFL MVP award — will be harder to repeat.

What are BetMGM odds on Lamar Jackson prop bets?

BetMGM has prop bets for yards and touchdowns on select NFL players, including Jackson.

The combination of more passing yards and far fewer touchdown passes is hard to reconcile, but that’s what the BetMGM lines indicate.

Last year Jackson passed for 3,127 yards. BetMGM’s line for his passing yards in 2020 is 3,199.5. Jackson threw 36 touchdowns last season, but the over/under for his 2020 touchdown passes at BetMGM is 26.5. That’s a big drop.

The thought that Jackson could improve as a passer and still throw 10 fewer touchdown passes is explainable in one stat. Jackson threw a touchdown on 9 percent of his passes last season, which is very likely to regress in a big way.

Since 1966, only four quarterbacks have thrown touchdown passes on at least 9 percent of their passes in a season according to Pro Football Reference: Peyton Manning in 2004, Ken Stabler in 1976, Aaron Rodgers in 2011 and Jackson. Manning went from an unbelievable 9.9 percent to 6.2 the next year, Stabler went from 9.3 to 6.8 and Rodgers went from 9 to 7.1. Among qualified quarterbacks who started their careers in the Super Bowl era, Rodgers and Russell Wilson are the leaders in touchdown percentage at 6 percent. Manning and Tony Romo are tied for third on that list at 5.7 percent. Over the past 10 seasons the league-wide touchdown percentage has been between 4.3 and 4.6 percent eight times. It has not been above 4.8 since 1969.

To sum up, Jackson is very unlikely to throw touchdowns on 9 percent of his passes ever again, and the drop this season will probably be significant. Had Jackson thrown for touchdowns on 6 percent of his throws last year — still a historically significant rate and well ahead of the league average — he would have tossed 24 touchdowns.

It’s possible for Jackson to improve once again as a passer and still see his passing touchdowns dip by a third or more. Don’t be fooled by what looks like an attainable over on that touchdown total. Jackson could reach that mark again, but he’ll have to fight a lot of inevitable regression along the way. Not to mention the risk of injury from a quarterback who is shattering records for rushing attempts at his position.

Can Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson repeat his magical 2019 season? (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Can Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson repeat his magical 2019 season? (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Where does Lamar Jackson rank among MVP favorites?

It’s tougher to quantify Jackson’s chances of repeating as MVP. But it’s still going to be hard to do it again.

Over the last 30 years, only Brett Favre (1995-97) and Manning (2008-09) have repeated at MVP. BetMGM’s odds aren’t overly optimistic on Jackson’s chances. He is +600 to win MVP, far behind Mahomes at +350. Wilson is also +600. Dak Prescott is +1200 and no other player is better than 16-to-1.

Jackson is still one of the NFL’s biggest stars, best players and among the top favorites to win MVP, but it will be hard to ever duplicate his statistics from his storied 2019. Bettors can beware of that regression when they start to check out the prop bets with Jackson’s projected numbers.