As the NFL heads into the playoffs, three of the top four running quarterbacks from the past season will be helming their team’s offenses.
At the top of the list is Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson, who boosted the Ravens’ Super Bowl odds by propelling the Ravens to a 13-4 record and the AFC No. 1 seed. Jackson has been breaking records for rushing by a quarterback since he became the Ravens’ starter part way through the 2018 season. In 2023, he led all quarterbacks in rushing with 821 yards. That raised his career total to an amazing 5,258 yards (an average of more than 68 rushing yards per start). Jackson also scored five touchdowns on the ground.
As you consider your options for Maryland sports betting, know that the other two QBs in the playoffs with substantial rushing numbers this past season are the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts (605 yards, 15 rushing TDs, many on shorts-yardage plunges) and the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen (524 yards, 15 rushing TDs).
Chicago’s Justin Fields was the No. 2 rushing quarterback in 2023 with 657 yards and four TDs but the Bears failed to qualify for the playoffs. Fields also missed four games due to injury. In addition, his future in Chicago remains a question with a 10-28 career record as a starter, and considering the Bears happen to have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Top Rushing QBs 2023-24 Season
Value of a Running QB
In addition to Jackson, Hurts and Allen, not to be missed in terms of mobile quarterbacks is Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes. His 389 rushing yards in 2023 puts him behind the other playoff-bound mobile quarterbacks statistically, but this season marks the sixth consecutive time he’s taken his team to the playoffs as a starter. Other quarterbacks in the playoffs, including Green Bay’s Jordan Love and Houston’s C.J. Stroud, might not have piled up a huge number of rushing yards but nimbleness in the face of the pass rush is part of their games.
So, how valuable is a running quarterback when it comes to the NFL’s biggest moments, the playoffs and the Super Bowl?
Over the course of the Super Bowl era, beginning with the 1966 season, very few quarterbacks who would be identified as principally running quarterbacks have won the NFL championship.
Roger Staubach, whose nickname, “The Dodger,” referenced his ability to escape danger more than downfield dashes, won two Super Bowls with Dallas. San Francisco’s Joe Montana, who won four Super Bowls, had a knack, like Staubach, of being elusive in the pocket but not for being a downfield rusher the likes of the current running quarterbacks. The 49ers’ Steve Young was definitely a running quarterback for much of his career, but when he won Super Bowl XXIX following the 1994 season, he dominated with his arm, throwing for six touchdowns and running for a judicious 49 yards.
Denver’s John Elway was also mobile and memorably ran for a highlight-reel 8-yard first down in the red zone ending in the famous “whirly-bird” dive to help the Broncos beat the Packers, 31-24, in Super Bowl XXXII.
And in last year’s Super Bowl, Kansas City’s Mahomes, hobbled with an ankle injury, ran for only 44 yards in the entire game but managed a gutsy 26-yard scramble late in the fourth quarter to help set up the Chiefs’ winning field goal.
For Jackson -- as the Ravens, the AFC No. 1 seed, wait to play their opening playoffs game in the Divisional Round -- this postseason is critical. ESPN Bet Maryland lists Jackson and the Ravens (+325) as the second pick to win the Super Bowl, behind a team they handled in the regular season, the San Francisco 49ers (+225).
In Jackson’s 2019 MVP season, the Ravens were stunned in their first playoff game by Tennessee, 28-12. Jackson had 143 rushing yards but also three turnovers. The next season, the Ravens avenged that embarrassment by beating the Titans in the Wild Card game as Jackson ran for 136 yards and a touchdown, but Baltimore was ousted by Buffalo in the Divisional Round. In 2022, Jackson was injured when the playoffs rolled around and he didn’t play in the Wild Card game that the Ravens lost to Cincinnati, 24-17.
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