Highlander Hot Take: Russell Wilson will edge Lamar Jackson in the NFL MVP race

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With 13 weeks in the books, the 2019 NFL season’s MVP race is beginning to trim down its weaker candidates. At a 9-2 record each, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson remain as the prime contenders. Both are neck and neck in touchdown passes, yards per game and have a similar quarterback rating (QBR) to name a few. Consistency will be the deciding factor in the race, and it is something that Wilson has proven pass after pass. The Seahawks’ strong season and sustained consistency are the main reasons why Wilson will win the trophy at the end of the regular season.  

As the centerpieces of their respective offenses, both quarterbacks have thrown 24 touchdown passes. However, Russell Wilson has thrown two fewer interceptions compared to Lamar Jackson’s five. Wilson’s mental discipline has allowed him to commit fewer turnovers in games that have come down to the wire. He has been Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll’s solution to five of their nine winning games where the Seahawks won by a possession or less. In each of those five games, Wilson had a game-winning drive. 

His most notable game-winning drive came against their conference rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. Wilson earned his 28th rcareer game-winning drive in overtime against one of the league’s best defenses. The highlight of the match came when Wilson made an 18-yard run on third-and-3 that allowed the Seahawks to set up a game-winning field goal. With his stellar performance, Wilson posted a QBR of 71.8, the highest of any quarterback against the 49ers this season thus far.  

It should then come as no surprise that Wilson has three completions with a success probability below 15%. This comes courtesy of the NFL’s NextGen Stats, which accounts for on field factors such as the football’s time in flight, parabola planes and distance of the receiver to the defender amongst other measurements. 

The rest of the entire league’s quarterbacks have four throws in that range of success. Four throws combined to Wilson’s own three. Once again, the near-impossible throws come in games where Pete Carroll places the weight of the game on his quarterback. Wilson has shown no sign of crumbling under pressure this season.  

Wilson’s fewer interceptions should not be confused with reluctance to risk and throw the ball. Wilson averages 267 yards per game and has accumulated over 500 more yards than Jackson. This is especially impressive considering the fact that Seattle’s defense is still recovering from questionable releases and signings.  

The “Legion of Boom” that carried the Seahawks to the 2014 Super Bowl has now become the “Legion of Doom.” His offensive line has allowed a total of 33 sacks. Wilson has been able to consistently post impressive numbers with a mediocre offensive line.  

On the contrary, Lamar Jackson enjoys a bit more freedom and time as his offensive line has only allowed 20 sacks. 10 of the Baltimore Ravens wins have been by multiple possessions. Though Lamar Jackson played an important role in their wins, these wins are indicative of the caliber of the Ravens defensive roster. Through multiple offseason signings of immense quality, the Ravens secondary has come up big on forcing interceptions and recovering fumbles that lead to a greater score. This is a luxurious cushion that Russel Wilson has not had recently with the Seahawks.  

Prior to the start of the 2019 season, Wilson signed a four-year $140 million extension that will keep him in Seattle through the 2023 season. With this huge extension by the Seahawks management, Wilson became the highest paid player in the league. It is safe to say their investment is paying off greatly and the team is likely to make a deep playoff run come the end of the regular season. To some, Wilson’s consistency throughout his career has become the standard, yet his production is largely ignored for that very same reason. It is time that his impressive play becomes recognized.

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