BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Football season is officially here and the Ravens and fans alike have high aspirations for 2020. Following a 14-2 year in which the team set records offensively before bowing out in the divisional round, the hope is for another giant leap forward that brings them into Super Bowl contention.

A large part of the recipe for that leap will include a heaping helping of quarterback Lamar Jackson, the reigning MVP. Heading into his third season, he finds himself on the same trajectory as Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes. Solid first appearance as a rookie, MVP as a second-year followed by, Super Bowl in Year 3? That’s the hope for the Ravens, but another question lingers, can Lamar take home back-to-back MVP awards?

“What a year he had last year, sensational. To do it again is going to be tough,” said SportsLine’s “Wizard of Odds” Kenny White. “He is the favorite right there, him and Patrick Mahomes are head-to-head depending on what sportsbook you shop at you can get 5-1 or 6-1 odds on Lamar Jackson to win another MVP award.”

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Jackson’s record-breaking season in 2019 would seem to be hard to eclipse but, for what it’s worth, a couple of NFL on CBS analysts said this week his performance is sustainable. Will it be another 1,000-yard rushing season? Maybe not, but with improved weapons at wide receiver (bulked up Marquise Brown, Year 2 Miles Boykin and rookies Devin Duvernay and James Proche) and a new explosive running back (J.K. Dobbins), Jackson has plenty around him to be able to succeed this year.

The question is, will that success be enough to overcome the Chiefs? Like the MVP race, White says it’s neck and neck.

“Co-favorites. Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens at about 6-1 odds to win it all giving a mathematical applied chance of about 16.6% to win a Super Bowl this year,” said White. “Baltimore fans, they thought they had it last year, think they might even have a little bit more hungry team and we know Kansas City has that target on their back and they have a Super Bowl. Maybe Baltimore should be the clear cut favorite.”

For now, the focus remains on this Sunday when the Cleveland Browns come to M&T Bank Stadium for the season opener. The Browns made some moves to improve this offseason including bringing in a new coaching staff. Still, it would seem that the Ravens should win comfortably right?

“Baltimore opened as a 10 point favorite, the line is now down to eight. A lot of money is coming in on Cleveland this weekend. There is a lot of unknown with the coronavirus and lack of practices,” said White. “Maybe people are gravitating towards underdogs because of that reason. 55 percent of the wagers overall have been on Cleveland which is kind of surprising as we know the general public loves a favorite.”

We’ll see if the bettors are right on Sunday, September 13 when the Ravens and Browns kick off on CBS at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.

Which picks can you make with confidence in Week 1? And which Super Bowl contender goes down hard? Visit SportsLine to see which NFL teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from the model that is up over $7,000 on its top-rated picks.

CBS Baltimore Staff

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