By: James Tillman
NFL Comeback Player of the Year Odds: Count on Cam?
In 2019, quarterback Ryan Tannehill was traded from the Miami Dolphins to the Tennessee Titans. He was slated to be the backup behind Marcus Mariota. However, after the Titans got off to a 2-4 start, the team decided to turn over the keys to Tannehill and he did not disappoint. He threw for 2,742 yards, 22 touchdowns against just six interceptions. He completed 70.3 percent of his passes during the regular season, had a league-best 9.6 yards per pass attempt and he led the NFL with a 117.5 passer rating.
On the heels of Tannehill’s play, the Titans grabbed the No. 6 seed. They went on to knock off Tom Brady and the Patriots and the top-seeded Ravens before coming up short against the eventual champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship game. Needless to say, Tannehill was an easy choice for the Comeback Player of the Year last season. Which players have the best odds to win the award for the 2020 NFL season? Here’s a look at the top three players in the running according to Unibet.
Third-Best Comeback Player of the Year Odds: J.J. Watt (+700)
J.J. Watt entered the NFL in 2011. During his rookie campaign, he recorded 5.5 sacks. However, over the next four seasons, his stock rose considerably. In 2012 and 2013, Watt had 20.5 and 10.5 sacks, respectively. In 2014 and 2015, he had 20.5 and 17.5 sacks. It should not be much of a surprise that he was named the league’s top defensive player three times in his first five seasons. Unfortunately, injuries hampered Watt over the next two seasons (2016 and 2017) as he played a total of just eight games.
Watt returned to form in 2018, as he recorded 16 sacks – the highest total in the AFC and he led the NFL with seven forced fumbles. Although injuries limited Watt to just eight games in 2019, he returned in time for the playoffs. Based on the numbers he put up when he was healthy, it’s easy to understand why he comes in at the No. 3 spot on the list.
Second-Best Comeback Player of the Year Odds: Cam Newton (+400)
It wasn’t that long ago when Cam Newton was the top quarterback in the league. During the 2015 campaign, he was named MVP following a season in which threw for 3,837 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Even more important, the Panthers went 15-1 en route to the team’s second appearance in the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, Newton and the Panthers came up a bit short against the Denver Broncos 24-10 in Super Bowl 50.
Newton has started 124 games in his career, posting a 68-55-1 record while completing 59.6% of his passing attempts for 29,041 yards, 182 touchdowns, 108 interceptions, and an 86.1 passer rating. He also has 4,806 rushing yards and 58 touchdowns. Additionally, during the first eight years of his NFL career, Newton had thrown for at least 3,000 yards and 18 touchdowns.
That streak came to an abrupt end in 2019, as injuries limited him to just two outings. Now that he has signed with the New England Patriots, the former MVP is hoping to turn things around, even though there’s an open competition at the starting quarterback position. If he can stay healthy, Newton has more than an outside shot at winning the Comeback Player of the Year award.
Top Comeback Player of the Year Odds: Ben Roethlisberger (+300)
Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger comes in at the No. 1 spot. Roethlisberger has not played a full 16-game season in five years. And like Newton, he appeared in just two games during the 2019 season and had to undergo elbow surgery. For those of us that may be tempted to think that Big Ben doesn’t have a lot left in the tank, I would caution you to think otherwise.
In his last full season (2018), he led the NFL with 5,129 passing yards to go along with 34 touchdowns. Both stats were career-highs for the two-time Super Bowl champion. If his level of play is remotely similar to that season, Roethlisberger could help lead the Steelers back to playoff contention as they have failed to reach the postseason in each of the past two seasons.