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Is Michael Vick a Legitimate NFL MVP Contender?
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 12/9/2010

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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick

Michael Vick has transformed himself from an imprisoned felon to a trendy pick to win NFL Most Valuable Player. He certainly has been valuable to the Philadelphia Eagles, who are 8-4 and atop the NFC East. The Eagles turned to Vick when starter Kevin Kolb went down with an injury and they turned to him again when Kolb was struggling.

Vick’s NFL odds to win MVP began at 50/1 at some sportsbooks, while most had him listed as part of the field. The odds steadily dropped to 25/1 before a Monday Night Football explosion in front of a national audience in which Vick led the Eagles to a 59-28 romp over the Washington Redskins. Vick passed for 333 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 80 yards and two more touchdowns.

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His odds instantly went to 10/1 after that game. Before Week 13 they were as low as +225 and many considered the MVP award Vick’s to lose. But then a much more household name began to post equal numbers.

The New England Patriots became an instant Super Bowl contender with their convincing wins over the Steelers and the Jets and Tom Brady became the new MVP favorite. This week on Bodog, Brady is listed as the favorite at 1/2. Vick is listed at 3/1 with other quarterbacks Matt Ryan (15/2), Aaron Rodgers (8/1), Philip Rivers (10/1) and Drew Brees (12/1) also in the running.

Any other season Vick would be a runaway favorite to win the award. But this has turned out to be the season of the quarterback. Peyton Manning (3,709 passing yards), Rivers (3,642 yards), Brees (3,634) yards and Kyle Orton (3,486) all at one point were on pace to break Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a single season, a record many used to think was unbreakable. Brady and Vick do not boast the total yardage of those other quarterbacks, but both have stellar quarterback ratings. Brady leads the league with a 109.5 rating and Vick is second with a 105.7 rating. Brady also leads the league in touchdown passes.

The knocks on Vick are obvious. Some voters may be hesitant to vote for Vick, a convicted felon. Vick ranks only 19th in the league in passing touchdowns and he has only played nine games this season, starting eight of them.

There are running backs that could be considered contenders -- Arian Foster (20/1), Adrian Peterson (25/1) and Maurice Jones-Drew (30/1) -- but neither of the three seemed destined for the postseason and that is almost a requirement for any of them to pull off an upset in the MVP race.

The race will come down to Brady, Vick, Ryan and Rivers, if he can lead San Diego back to the top of the AFC West. Right now, though, the award is Brady’s to lose and 1/2 is actually a bargain at this point as his odds will only get better with four weeks left in the season. Brady has a challenging slate ahead with Chicago and Green Bay in the next two weeks, but the Patriots then close the season against two below-average defenses in Buffalo and Miami. Compare that to Philadelphia, who has to play at Dallas, at New York Giants and home games against Minnesota and Dallas.

There was plenty of value in Vick a few weeks ago, but his Monday night performance against Washington ended any chance of catching a good price on Vick.

Ryan will have to be given serious consideration if he leads the Falcons to the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and it is almost impossible picturing Atlanta not getting that top seed. Of their next four games, Atlanta (10-2) plays Carolina twice and Seattle and New Orleans once. It’s hard to imagine Atlanta not winning at least three games and securing the top seed in the NFC. Vick has too much baggage to overcome to win this award, especially with Brady and his clean-cut image standing in the way. If you are looking for a dark horse steer clear of Vick and go with Ryan, who could be had at 15/2 right now.

 

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