NFL Comeback Player of the Year Odds, Picks and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 8/25/2014
There are two challenges I face when looking at betting on who will be the Comeback Player of the Year in the NFL. The first is that it is such a poorly-defined award. A guy can win it because he is coming back from a devastating injury, because he wasn't in the league the year before, or just because he had a lousy year the year before and bounced back strong. It can go to basically anyone - as Philip Rivers proved last year when he won the award despite playing 16 games the previous year and recording 3,606 passing yards and 26 touchdowns.
It's hard to effectively handicap a race when the field is massive. As significantly, I feel massively challenged because I can no longer pick the guy who, in my eyes, was all but a lock. I was very high on Sam Bradford as he came back from his ACL injury this year, but another ACL injury in a preseason game derailed his campaign before it started. Since I can't bet on him, I'll have to look over the odds offered at Bovada to see what else stands out:
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins (5/1): Whether it was the knee injury he suffered at the end of his rookie year or the turmoil of a doomed coaching staff last year, Griffin's second year of his career was a total debacle. He would be a prime candidate to win the award - quarterbacks have won the AP version of the award the last six years - except for one problem: I don't think he's going to have a very good year this year, either. His attitude and execution have not been consistently strong so far this fall, and I have little faith in Jay Gruden as coach. I just don't like this price.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers (11/2): Rodgers would be a good fit here - he is coming off an injury, his team missed him, and he is poised to be successful this year. His biggest problem, though, might be that he could be a big factor in the MVP race, and it is hard to imagine voters giving a guy recognition in both categories. When Adrian Peterson overcame his ACL injury it was a heck of a comeback, but he won MVP, so Peyton Manning - and his impressive comeback - was given the Comeback Award. I think Rodgers is a much better bet than Griffin, but there will be better value elsewhere.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (7/1): Randy Moss and Steve Smith have both won this award in the last decade, so a wide receiver can definitely win. Jones was en route to a statistically massive season last year until his foot injury derailed him. If he can stay healthy and put up that kind of numbers over a full season then things could really get interesting here. He's worth a look.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots (7/1): Gronkowski has had a slew of issues lately that has kept him off the field. If he can stay healthy all year, though, then he has the chance to post some really nice numbers. He has a perfect QB to work with as well as a system that suits him. The price is right here.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants (10/1): Manning could win the award this year in the same way that Rivers did last year. He played every game last year, but he was just lousy - he threw 27 interceptions and just 18 touchdowns. The biggest issue I have, though, is that I just don't have any faith that he is going to improve significantly. He has looked lousy in the preseason, and his decline really spread over the last two seasons. The Giants don't have enough around him, and I have lost faith in the coaching staff. This is far from an attractive play.
Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos (33/1): On one hand you could make a good argument for Miller. He is a talented and dynamic player, and he makes highlight reels when he plays. He also plays for a very public team that will get no shortage of attention. There are a couple of big problems, though. For starters, Tedy Bruschi, who shared the award in 2005, is the only linebacker ever to win any version of the award, so his position doesn't help him. More significantly, though, before his ACL injury last year Miller missed the first six games of the season for a PED-related suspension. I just don't see voters rewarding a guy with that background. I'd love to gamble on this price, but I just can't justify it.
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