By: Matt Watkins
At the end of the day, I’ll admit I’m wrong. Not happily, but I will. I doubt he’s reading this, but Aaron Rodgers, I was wrong. Even though the first three weeks were, well, meh, through the midway point of the season, you have been the best player in the NFL. That’s why Rodgers has taken the top spot in the NFL MVP odds at +275. Seriously, the last five weeks have been outstanding. Even in a “down” week in Week 6, he threw for 283 yards and two scores against Detroit. The next couple of weeks should be a return to what we saw earlier in October. The real test comes in week 12 against an outstanding San Francisco defense. If he puts up numbers there, just give him the award.
That said, Russell Wilson may have something to say about it. At +300, he has slipped slightly behind Rodgers in the odds race and is coming off a modest performance (14-20, 182, 2 TD) against the Falcons. The thing about Wilson is that he has always performed best when people have a reason to doubt him or his team. Week nine should be a good week since he’s playing Tampa Bay who is giving up more than 30 points per game.
The real test will be the game after that. It’s Week 10. Monday Night. On the road. At division leading San Francisco. That sets things up for Wilson Time. I know I said if he stays the course, you can hand Rodgers the MVP award, but if anyone has the moxie and rise to the moment ability to rip it from Rodgers’ hand, it’s Wilson, especially when he feels he has something to prove.
NFL MVP Odds: The Rise of the Running Quarterbacks
Staying the course with similar odds this week is DeShaun Watson (+600). If I can, let me illustrate just how amazing a player he is. On the play that scored the game-winning touchdown (the eighth fourth–quarter comeback of his career I might add), he was chased from behind, kept his knee inches from the ground, spun out, and in the process GOT KICKED IN THE EYE AND STILL THREW A CLEAN TD PASS TO WIN THE GAME. Other than the optical brilliance that leaves you with your jaw dropped asking how he accomplished the play, which he can do multiple times in a game, the difference this year is his maturity in the quarterback position.
We tend to forget that he missed half his rookie season and is only in his third year in the league. Now 31 games into his NFL career, he’s figured the league out a bit. Instead of forcing the ball to his targets, he’s using check downs and finding other options. It’s not just DeAndre Hopkins on the receiving end anymore. Combine that understanding with the intense physical gifts and it’s understandable to see why the Texans are so electrifying to watch on offense.
This week is where we get to see if the last of our favorites holds his place in the pack. Momentum is a fickle thing. Lamar Jackson (+600) has put together a brilliant first half of the season and I have been very high on him this entire year. He’s also never had to deal with a bye week as an NFL starting quarterback. How does he react coming through a week off? Normally you would assume he and the Ravens offense would run ragged over whomever their hapless opponent happened to be. HOWEVER, Jackson will face the juggernaut Patriots defense… who happens to be in the midst of the greatest defensive start in NFL history. Fortunately, after that, the schedule favors Jackson as he gets the Browns and Bengals before dealing with the Texans in Week 11.
At the moment, its Rodgers award to win. He’s the only one at the moment who can sustain an off week and likely keep his footing on the top of the podium. With favorable matchups for Wilson in Week 9 and Jackson a chance to open many eyes if he can somehow pull off the upset and take down the Patriots, Rodgers better not have a down week or he might find himself looking up at somebody else on top of the NFL MVP mountaintop.