2018 NFL MVP Betting Odds with Expert Wagering Predictions
The race for the NFL MVP is, at this point at least, down to just two guys - Kansas City first-year starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and New Orleans' 234-year veteran QB Drew Brees. And while it seems like the younger player has a clear edge at this point, the race has been evolving quickly, so it's not over yet. The next couple of weeks are going to be really significant.
We'll look at the two players, their odds, and the road ahead in a minute. Before we do, though, it's worth looking back to what has come before in this race. It has been quite a ride. Mahomes had only started once before this year, and it was a meaningless game, so he was at +5500 when the initial odds were posted this year. It should would be nice to have a ticket at that price - and a lot of people are going to be lying and saying they had one. That price, laughably, put Mahomes' chances behind suck bright lights as Eli Manning, Case Keenum, Derek Carr, Dak Prescott, and Kirk Cousins. Oops. Brees was at much lower odds at +1500, but he was still behind Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Carson Wentz.
This is the sixth week that these guys have been the top two favorites to take home the hardware and the fourth week that it has essentially been a two-horse race as Todd Gurley has fallen out of the race, and no one has been able to step up and join the party. Mahomes has had the edge over Brees in eight weeks out of 14 so far, but Brees had had the edge for three weeks before this past season and had been at below even money for each of those weeks. After week 13 he had a -500 to +400 edge, and it seemed like he was on the verge of wrapping things right up.
Now we have Mahomes at -140, and Brees at even money, so the gap is small. Too small, it seems at this point. For Brees the issue has been the last couple of weeks. He had a real stinker in the loss to the Cowboys two games back - 127 yards passing with a touchdown and a pick. And last week he had only 201 yards, with another TD and another pick. So, in two weeks he has had 328 yards passing with two scores and two interceptions. In that same time Mahomes has gone for 672 yards and six touchdowns, with just one interception. It has been a bit of a mismatch.
It's not just the numbers that have worked so well for Mahomes and his candidacy of late. To win a race like this a guy needs to make the highlight reels - voters have short attention spans, so they are swayed by flashy play and big wins. That no-look pass Mahomes threw last week is pretty much perfectly designed to deliver votes to his side. It was a ridiculous, almost impossible play, and it isn't one you will forget if you watched it.
The last two weeks has widened the statistical gap between the players, and now the difference is striking. Mahomes has 4,300 yards passing with 43 touchdowns and 11 picks. Brees has far fewer picks with just four, but he is far behind in other measures - 3,463 yards and 31 scores. Brees has an other-worldly completion percentage of 75.7, but at 66.8 percent Mahomes is far from an embarrassment on that front. And Mahomes has an 8.92 to 8.35 edge in yards per attempt.
Mahomes already has the most TD passes in the last five years since Peyton Manning set the all-time record with 55, and he has three games left to play. Those three games are at home against the Chargers, at Seattle, and at home against the Raiders. The L.A. game has the highest total of the week and has the chance to be a real shootout. That works well for Mahomes. Seattle's defense is strong and in good form right now, but Jared Goff has passed for 639 yards in two meetings this year, so it is possible for Mahomes to put up some numbers. And Mahomes went off for 295 yards and four scores in Oakland, so he could really rip them apart at home. Going over 5,000 yards is a strong likelihood given how he is playing, and given that he is just 12 touchdowns behind Manning's record and has had four or more touchdowns seven times, you can't rule out a shot at history. A number of 5,000 would likely wrap up the MVP, and the closer he gets to 55 the harder he will be to beat. The problem, of course, is that Mahomes may not get the chance to play in full games. They have already wrapped up a playoff spot, and with a win this week they will have the division wrapped up as well and will likely have the top seed wrapped up, too. Andy Reid is no rookie coach, so he will know that winning in the playoffs matters a lot more than individual records, and he will do what it takes to stay healthy. Remember, Mahomes got his first start last year in the final game of the season when Alex Smith was rested to be playoff ready. So, if you are interested in record pursuits for Mahomes, the best you could hope for is for the Chiefs to lose a shootout with the Chargers so they will have to keep their feet on the gas pedals.
What does Brees need to get back into this race? They play the Panthers twice and the Steelers, so Brees has three chances to feast on broken and disappointing teams. He'll absolutely have to go crazy for those games, and he'll have to hope that Mahomes falters. It's going to be tough. Very tough. The gap between the two players is very small according to the odds, but I would be quite shocked if Mahomes didn't win at this point. There is no value in locking up your cash for several weeks for a return as low as this price suggests, but if you were going to bet on someone Mahomes would be the clear choice.
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