NFL MVP Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
The story of this NFL season, unfortunately, has been debilitating injuries to crucial players. And, most recently, the torn ACL suffered by Carson Wentz has seriously impacted the fabric of not only the season and the race for the Super Bowl , but the MVP race as well. At this time last week I would have confidently picked Wentz as my pick to win the award. Now he has no chance, and the race has changed fundamentally. Now that things have changed, this is a good time to revisit the odds and see how things could play out (odds to win the NFL MVP are from Bovada ):
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Tom Brady, New England Patriots, -175: Brady had an ugly game last week, but he still controls this race. He still leads the league in passing yards and passer rating - as a 40-year-old. Only Carson Wentz has a better TD-Interception ratio, and only Drew Brees is completing passes at a better clip. And Brady is doing it while dealing with injuries and while playing behind far from the best offensive line he has ever enjoyed. It's his race to lose. The bad outing against Miami, though, has narrowed his margin of victory. If he has a bad outing against Pittsburgh and the Patriots lose then the Pats could lose their playoff bye, and Brady would be in a very tough spot. Given the stakes of his next outing, then, I would find it impossible to justify a bet on him at this price. But I'm also not at all keen to bet against him. And he does get Rob Gronkowski back after his one-game suspension, so that makes a big difference.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers, +500: Brown is the fast riser in this race. He was 33/1 last week but fell all the way down to this level this week. His game last week was truly spectacular. He had a season-high 213 yards on 11 catches in a crazy win over Baltimore. He has 1,509 yards already this season, and he still has three games left. That means that he has at least a fighting chance at the 2,000-yard marker. But even if he gets there he is very unlikely to win this award. The reason for that, fair or not, is just a matter of history. Not a single receiver has ever won the MVP. Not Jerry Rice or anyone else. And it's worse than that. Randy Moss, who got four votes in 1998, is the last receiver to even get a vote. In the last 25 years the award has been won by 19 quarterbacks and six running backs.
Brown is on track for a very strong season, but he's almost certainly not good enough to come out on top. There could be a path, though. For starters, Brady needs to fall way off the track. It would help if Pittsburgh was the team to humiliate him this weekend. Then Russell Wilson needs to have another dud of a game, and Drew Brees and Philip Rivers need to look mortal as well. If all of that happens and Brown remains productive then his biggest threat could come from within. Ben Roethlisberger (currently +1200) is a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champ who has never been MVP, so voters could look at this as a career achievement award. It would be easy to justify picking him over Brown for many voters - Brown wouldn't make the catches if Big Ben didn't throw the passes. Roethlisberger probably has thrown too many picks (13) and not enough touchdowns (24) to win at this point, but if he winds up at 14-2 with 4,700 yards or so and more than 30 touchdowns with a better than 2-1 TD-interception ratio he'd be a very strong contender. Brown's biggest strength here would be that Roethlisberger is advocating for him now and would likely keep it up. But I still can't justify taking the receiver at anything close to this price.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, +750: Wilson threw three picks last week and had his lowest completion percentage since the opening week, so his candidacy has taken a hit as well. He has been very impressive late in games, though, and plays behind a lousy line, so he gets real consideration. Like Brady, this weekend will be crucial for his chances. He plays a virtual playoff game against Jared Goff and the Rams. The winner will very likely win the NFC West, so a big performance in a winning effort would really boost Wilson's case - especially if Brady loses and doesn't shine.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles, +750: It's a cruel, cruel game. Wentz was playing like an MVP and was well positioned to win the award, but one knee injury derailed that. He played only 13 games, and as impressive as they were it just isn't enough unless basically everyone else fell off a cliff.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints and Philip Rivers, L.A. Chargers (both +1400): I've grouped these together because of their similarities. Both are older quarterbacks playing very well. Both have a good look at winning their division. That would be quite unexpected in either case, would be absolutely crucial to either player's case. And, most significantly, neither one of these guys is winning unless they finish on a red-hot streak and the four contenders ahead of them all falter.
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers, +5000: Bell is the only other player with listed odds at this point, but it just isn't going to happen. He is on track to set a career high in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, and he has strong passing numbers, too, but his yards per carry are far below what they have been the last three years, and voters see him as no better than the third most important offensive force on the team. Literally no chance.
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