In the current NFL MVP race, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and San Francisco 49ers Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy have emerged as the two leading candidates to get the award. Coincidentally, both No.1 seeds in the AFC and NFC respectively will face each other on a delightful Christmas night matchup.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was asked about the MVP race and Jackson's chances at winning the award for a second time having already bagged (unanimously) the 2019 MVP. He couldn't have been clearer with his answer on Monday (h/t Sarah Ellison for quoting him): "I don’t really care. I could care less about any of that, and the beautiful thing is Lamar couldn’t care less either."
That's correct. Why? Because Lamar Jackson might win or might not win the award but at the end of the day he's tasked with leading his team, the Baltimore Ravens, to win collectively. So what did Harbaugh add to his initial statement? "What we care about is the game on [Monday]."
If you need a great example of this, last Sunday's performance was a good one. Lamar Jackson didn't have a terrific game on paper, throwing for 171 yards on a low 14-completion day including one touchdown and one interception. Notably, he added 97 rushing yards on 12 carries, but most importantly, he did enough to carry the Ravens to their 11th win of the season, to clinch a postseason berth, and to stay atop the AFC.
Obviously, Jackson has done much more than that and he's had many more MVP-level games this season. That's why he's currently second in the race for the MVP award only trailing Monday's foe 49ers QB Brock Purdy.
The problem with the odds, however, is that they don't seem to appreciate the fact that Purdy is enjoying a great season because he's part of a team ridiculously loaded on offense. To wit, teammate RB Christian McCaffrey has the third-best odds to win the MVP. No Ravens player other than Jackson is even remotely close to entering the MVP conversation.
Are we sure Purdy is lifting the Niners... or is San Francisco as a whole lifting the quarterback instead and masquerading a good-not-great passer as an MVP candidate? We might have a verdict on Monday, but as Harbaugh said, we could care less.