The Super Bowl MVP is likely to be one of the two quarterbacks. Let's not kid ourselves about that. These two guys are superstars that dictate the play of their teams as much as any guy in the league. Eleven of the last 18 MVP winners have been quarterbacks, and Tom Brady has won the award himself three times already. The odds reflect this reality, too. BetOnline has Brady , who starts for the three-point favorites in the game , at -115 favorite to win the hardware. Matt Ryan is the second choice at +175. No other player is below +1200. So there really isn't that much drama here - pick the quarterback of the team you like and you are probably good. Let's pretend for a second, though, that that isn't the case. If one of those two doesn't win the game then who does?
Julio Jones (+1200) and Julian Edelman (+1200): These two go together logically because they are both tied as third choice, they are both the favorite target of their quarterback, and they are both big game players. They both have the same problem, though. If they have big days then it means that their quarterbacks have had big days, and it would be tough for either guy to eclipse the biggest star on their team in a fair fight.
Look at the NFC Championship Game as an example. Jones was unstoppable with 180 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan was just as good, though, passing for 392 yards and four TDs without a pick, and he ran for a score as well. If they were each to replicate that game in the Super Bowl there is very little chance that Jones would get the nod over Ryan.
If I had to take one of these two receivers, though, I would be more likely to take Edelman. Jones is coming off a huge game and is the better all-round receiver, but I have more faith in the ability of the Patriots to frustrate and limit Jones than the opposite. Receivers have won three of the last 12 MVP awards and are the second-most-likely recipient after a QB, but the last was Santonio Holmes back in 2009.
Devonta Freeman (+1800), Dion Lewis (+1800), LeGarrette Blount (+2000), and Tevin Coleman (+2800): We might as well deal with the four running backs at the same time. There are several problems here. First, none of these guys are what people are here to see. When you watch Pittsburgh lately you want to see Le'Veon Bell. You watch the Vikings over the years to see Adrian Peterson. No one tunes into these teams to watch the running backs. All four are talented and important, but they aren't star attractions. That will make it tougher to stand out.
None of them are coming off hugely productive games, and if this game turns into the shootout that the total suggests it could then these teams won't be using running backs heavily, either. Then there is the biggest issue - running backs just don't win this award. The last one to do so was Terrell Davis in 1998, and with all due respect to these four, they are not Davis. That's an 18-year drought - long enough for it to be more of a trend than a fluke. I'll pass on all four of these guys.
Chris Hogan (+2000): If you really want to pick a receiver, you might as well jump on this price. Hogan was a beast in the AFC Championships. Oddly, he exactly matched Julio Jones' numbers in the NFC Championship Game - nine catches on 12 targets for 180 yards and two scores. The problem, of course, is that the game kind of came from nowhere. Hogan had never been used nearly that much and had only four touchdowns all season leading into this game. The chemistry with Brady is obvious, though, and the Patriots have a habit of riding the hot hand. I'm not saying he is more likely to win than Jones or Edelman, but at the price he represents better value.
Martellus Bennett (+4000): A tight end has never been MVP, but then few teams have used tight ends like New England does. He's been banged up lately, but the extra week could help him out. He's a long shot because even in his best games he doesn't put up the gaudy numbers that Rob Gronkowski has, but he's the intriguing long shot on the board for the Patriots.
Keanu Neal (+100000): If you are really in the mood to gamble then I would look at the rookie safety for the Falcons. He is second on the Falcons in tackles, and several of those hits have been big and exciting. He doesn't get a whole lot of counting stats, but he has forced five fumbles and plays well against the pass. The ball will be in the air a lot in this game, so Neal could have a chance to really change the direction of things in a hurry. A win by a safety isn't unprecedented, either - Dexter Jackson won it with the Bucs in 2003, and the Dolphins Jake Scott won it in 1973.
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