Lamar Jackson would be NFL MVP if the award was decided today, but could Josh Allen outplay him on Sunday?
On Thanksgiving, the Buffalo Bills announced themselves to the national audience with a 26-15 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Suddenly, the Bills are 9-3 and only a game back of the New England Patriots in the AFC East. But their biggest test yet is coming in Week 14.
The Baltimore Ravens look like the NFL’s best team, with an eight-game winning streak and the leading MVP candidate in quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Bills are home on Sunday, but a win over the Ravens would be an upset and a big statement to the rest of the AFC looking toward the playoffs. Before the win over Dallas, Buffalo had taken advantage of a pretty soft schedule.
Jackson is on the verge of setting the single-season rushing record, and he’s been a more than capable passer (25 touchdowns, five interceptions, 109.6 passer rating, 66.5 percent completion rate). Allen is a threat with his legs as well, with 430 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground through 12 games this season.
The Bills will obviously need their best defensive effort of the season this week. The offense can help the cause by sustaining drives against a tough Ravens’ defense, and keeping Jackson off the field.
But could Allen actually outplay Jackson on Sunday? Let’s look at the last five games for each quarterback, as the Ravens have gone 5-0 and the Bills 4-1 over that span.
Lamar Jackson: 72.9 percent completion rate, 882 passing yards (8.2 yards per attempt), 136.8 passer rating, 14 touchdown passes, four interceptions; 401 rushing yards (7.0 yards per carry)
Josh Allen: 63.6 percent completion rate, 1,098 passing yards (7.7 yards per attempt), 100.5 passer rating, seven touchdown passes, one interception; 195 rushing yards (4.9 yards per carry)
Jackson is on his own level as a runner, in terms of volume and running back-like ability. If not for the comparison, Allen’s 4.9 yards per carry over the last handful of games (and 4.6 yards per carry for the season as a whole) would look pretty good.
Allen is averaging more passing yards per game than Jackson (219.6 vs. 176.4) over their last five games, albeit with more volume (28.6 attempts per game vs. 21.4 attempts per game). But Allen’s yards per pass attempt over that span is only a half-yard lower, with a passer rating around 100 that again suffers almost solely on the comparison to Jackson’s being nearly 137 over his last five games.
Jackson has faced two of the league’s best defenses on each end of his last five games (New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers). Yet he has also faced the far more vulnerable units of Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans and Los Angeles Rams over that span, with 12 of his 14 touchdown passes over his last five over those middle three games.
It can be argued that Allen has faced a better overall set of defenses over his last five (Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos and the Cowboys). And that leaves out any gap in the talent around him compared to what’s around Jackson.
Outplaying Jackson would be be a tough task for any quarterback right now. His dual-threat ability is unrivaled, and his 2019 campaign will reach historical milestones (particularly as a runner) that are likely to stand for awhile. For someone to have any chance to do it, their skill set has to be similar.
Sunday’s game could be the launch point for a quarterback rivalry that is prominent in the AFC for years to come.
A look at the stat lines for Allen and Jackson after Sunday’s game should be a good indicator of who won. If Allen can keep his turnover sheet clean, account for multiple scores and come through when faced with critical situations, he’ll give the Bills a chance to win. Even if he does not outperform Jackson, a winning-caliber performance will be enough to remove some doubters about Allen — and his team.
Credit: Source link