Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will get an up-close look at Joe Burrow and the Bengals for the first time on Oct. 11 at M&T Bank Stadium, the first matchup between the two Heisman Trophy winners in their careers.
Burrow, the most recent Heisman winner, took the nation by storm with one of, if not the best statistical season a collegiate quarterback has ever had at LSU in 2019. He won the national championship with the Tigers and rose from being thought of as a mid-to-late round quarterback prospect to the first overall pick in the draft.
Jackson on the other hand, who is 27 days Burrow’s younger, won the NFL’s MVP award in his second full season as a starter.
Now, the AFC North has three Heisman Trophy winners (the other being Baker Mayfield) with the fourth, Ben Roethlisberger, likely on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after his career ends.
With such youth at the quarterback position in the division, this matchup could turn out to be the first of many in years of divisional bouts between two of the best young quarterbacks in the league.
Tale of the tape
Jackson’s numbers at the NFL level last season were staggering. Burrow’s numbers were too, the only difference being that he posted them against college competition.
Jackson combined for a total of 4,333 yards and 43 touchdowns in 15 games on his way to the league’s second-ever unanimous AP MVP award. The Ravens finished the season 14-2 due in large part to the best rushing offense, in terms of total yards, the league had ever seen.
Burrow, though, broke records of his own at LSU.
Despite a mostly average start to his career at LSU in 2018, he threw for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns and just six interceptions for the Tigers in his final year in college. His completion percentage was a mind-numbing 76.3, too, as the Tigers won all but three of their games by 10 or more points.
Now in Cincinnati, just over two hours from his home growing up, he’s got the support of the state and the Bengals firmly at his back.
In one of the rare cases on the Ravens' schedule, the Bengals might be able to go toe-to-toe with the Ravens’ skill positions.
Quarterback aside, there’s no debate who has the better receiving corps.
Cincinnati has A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, Auden Tate and John Ross to put at wideout and let run freely. It also has Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard in the backfield to take the pressure off Burrow and give him safety valves out of the backfield.
The Ravens running back depth is clearly superior, as Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill outweigh Mixon and Bernard in totality, even though Mixon is the best of the bunch.
Burrow might be in trouble with his offensive line, as the Bengals’ unit is still mostly unknown, though Billy Price and Jonah Williams are two promising young talents. The Ravens’ offensive line, even without Marshal Yanda, should be one of the best units in the league once again.
Who has the edge?
Burrow might turn out to have a great year in his rookie campaign, but until he actually steps onto the field, this isn’t a debate.
Jackson was the league’s MVP last year, and even though Burrow shows promise and will give the Bengals a newfound swagger, Jackson holds any advantage over nearly every quarterback in the NFL until proven otherwise.
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