Lamar Jackson, Ravens Still Have Work To Do

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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) scrambles for yardage during the first half of an NFL football game the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Ravens agreed in principle with Jackson on a five-year deal Thursday, April 27, 2023, securing their star quarterback for the foreseeable future and ending a contract negotiation saga that was dominating the team's offseason.
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Jul 02, 2023, 9:16 PM
  • During Lamar Jackson’s extended contract negotiations, the Ravens sank to +2500.
  • The Ravens offense ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in 2022.
  • Zay Flowers might be a nice add, but don’t hold your breath for Antonio Brown.

The biggest NFL personnel news of the last month or so has been the sudden contract breakthrough in Baltimore. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens – once locked in a years-long dispute over Jackson’s second contract – quickly and quietly came to an agreement before the draft.

Since then, the NFL odds market has swung decisively toward the Ravens now that their quarterback is back in the fold.

Here’s my full breakdown on where the Ravens’ odds market is right now, how it’s yo-yoed back and forth over the last three months, and where exactly you should get involved in the market right now. 

Baltimore Ravens Odds: How the NFL Futures Market Evolved Around Lamar Jackson

A prolonged contract negotiation isn’t great for team futures. The Ravens opened next year’s Super Bowl odds market at +1800, eventually slipping to +2000 right before the NFL free agency period.

By mid-April, the Ravens were up to +2500, heading the wrong way on the NFL odds boards just days before the draft. It’s not hard to figure out why. For most bettors, the ongoing Lamar drama provided too much uncertainty and far too little return. 

By mid-April, there were more Super Bowl tickets on the Colts, Texans, Cardinals, and Raiders than the Ravens. 

That may have been a miscalculation, though. It was clear there wasn’t a burgeoning free-agent market for Jackson, as many teams eschewed public interest in signing him.

Whether they were scared off by his asking price, his non-traditional negotiating style, his implied injury risk, or some other factor, it was clear there were a limited number of potential homes for him outside of Baltimore. The most likely result was for Lamar to end up staying in Baltimore. My colleague, Colton Pool, even wrote about this for The Roar back in March.

After his return, the NFL futures market for Ravens odds bounced back. Here are the key futures:

Lamar Jackson is also eighth in the NFL MVP odds at +1600.

Jalen Hurts Deal Likely Influenced Lamar Jackson’s Return

Lamar Jackson was adamant he wouldn’t return to Baltimore without a new deal that reset the market on what quarterbacks were worth. He wanted a deal that was greater than or equal to the guaranteed contract Deshaun Watson got at AFC North rival Cleveland.

But most analysts, including myself, agreed that such a contract was unlikely to materialize – for neither Jackson nor other quarterbacks. The Watson contract was a weird, one-off agreement that emerged from a unique (and, frankly, bizarre) courtship-via-trade. NFL owners and executives are rumored to all be deeply annoyed with the Browns’ front office for ever green-lighting such a contract in the first place.

It was Hurts’ contract that most likely brought Jackson back to Baltimore. When he saw what the market would (and wouldn’t) yield for another talented dual-threat quarterback who’s fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, Jackson likely relented on some of his loftiest demands.

Lamar Jackson Is Back, But That Doesn’t Fix All of Baltimore’s Problems

So much of the media coverage and fan discussion centered on Lamar Jackson and the Ravens has focused on the conflict and negotiation breakdowns between the two parties. Over the last few weeks, most fans have switched their attention to the new Lamar Jackson contract details

Let’s not forget that contract negotiations are the easy part. The Ravens have made the playoffs four times in the last eight years, with a 1-4 record in those games. The organization hasn’t made it past the divisional round since the Joe Flacco Super Bowl run. 

The NFL has become a league that’s increasingly about explosive passing offense and dynamic wide receiver play. By contrast, the Ravens’ offensive philosophy under former OC Greg Roman was to lean into its dynamic run game, with plenty of passes to tight end Mark Andrew. 

Last year’s top wide receiver, Demarcus Robinson, finished with 487 receiving yards. He played all 17 games. 

A strategic zag isn’t always a bad thing, but it does seem at times like the Ravens are trying to win a Super Bowl in 2009, given their offensive strategy. Lamar Jackson is a uniquely gifted athlete, but there’s a real case to be made that Baltimore’s offense has become a net negative when compared to other Super Bowl-caliber units. 

For 2022, PFF graded the Ravens as 2nd in the NFL in pass protection but 22nd in actual passing offense efficacy. Perhaps that’s why Greg Roman was replaced by former Georgia Bulldogs OC Todd Monken. 

Antonio Brown Baltimore Ravens

One of the Ravens’ rumored offseason moves is to add Antonio Brown to the wide receiver room. 

It’s a big name, but don’t get too excited. Brown would be 35 by the time the 2023 season starts, and there isn’t much use for a 35-year-old diva receiver who has been kicked off several consecutive teams. 

Who Did the Ravens Draft? Baltimore Ravens Draft Picks:

That’s not to say the Ravens added zero compelling pieces to the roster this spring. Here’s a quick look at the Ravens’ draft picks:

  • 1/22: WR Zay Flowers (Boston College)
  • 3/86: LB Trenton Simpson (Clemson)
  • 4/124: EDGE Tavius Robinson (Ole Miss)
  • 5/157: CB Kyu Blu Kelly (Stanford)
  • 6/199: OT Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu (Oregon)
  • 7/229: G Andrew Vorhees (USC)

AFC Favorites: Baltimore’s Place in the AFC Arms Race

Even if things go well inside Baltimore, there’s plenty of obstacles in the AFC. The Ravens will be on the road in the first round unless they can wrest control of the division from Joe Burrow and the Bengals, who have now won it two straight years.

The Bills and Chiefs loom as potential conference juggernauts. Nearly 20% of all Super Bowl tickets are on one of those two teams. 

The Chargers and Jaguars could be in the mix. The Jets’ Super Bowl odds certainly suggest that many consider them a real AFC contender. No one knows what the Broncos could be.

The Ravens could be a really good team in 2023 and not even make the playoffs. The AFC is that loaded.

What Are the Odds of the Ravens Winning the Division?

The Baltimore Ravens’ odds to win the AFC North are +250. The Bengals have become one of the most public teams anywhere in the NFL betting odds market, and the numbers here reflect that.

Ravens Schedule Analysis

We’re going to know very early in 2023 if Baltimore is a real contender or not. The Ravens must play all three divisional rivals on the road in the first five weeks of the season. 

If the Ravens are above .500 after Week 5, there’ll be a spike in their odds.

On the other hand, if they start with a few losses, it might be time to buy low on their playoff odds. A sub-.500 record would probably yield a much better in-season price than the -150 currently available at the BetMGM online sportsbook.

Ravens London Game

After the NFL schedule release on May 11, one of the most popular highlights was an enticing Week 6 showdown in London between the Ravens and Titans.

Buy your tickets earlier, Ravens fans. 

Baltimore Ravens Futures: Should You Bet on the Ravens in 2023?

I’m genuinely happy that Lamar Jackson got paid. I’m also happy he’s back in Baltimore. I think the two parties make a great pair. The NFL is better off with a competitive Ravens team that’s led by Jackson.

That said, I wouldn’t want to bet too many Ravens futures. If you’re a believer in the Monken offense and a reinvigorated, post-contract Jackson, then take your shot. You could be right, and I could be wrong.

However, there are way too many good horses to bet on in the AFC. As good as peak Lamar can be, I’d want a better return against the Burrow/Mahomes/Allen power structure. 

If anything, I’d consider betting the Ravens at +125. Similarly, I also think a Ravens Under 9.5 wins (+105) is also attractive, given how difficult the division and overall schedule are.

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.