By: Matt Watkins
NFL MVP Odds Longshots Now That Cam is a Pat
Until Sunday, not much changed in the overall NFL MVP race since the end of the draft. Patrick Mahomes (+400) and Lamar Jackson (+700) are still the favorites. Tom Brady (+1600) is still receiving plenty of attention. Between his on field potential with the Bucs and his wrist slaps from the NFLPA and local authorities for his working out either with too many people, in restricted places, or walking into the wrong person’s home, TB12 in TB is off to a bit of a rough start, but keeps him in the news.
But there are others who have flown more under the radar. Those who have put together good seasons, maybe even MVP seasons before, but have been written off as past their prime, not a good fit, don’t play the right position. Guys who are capable of, if everything falls into place, snagging the league’s premier award.
Aaron Rodgers (+3000) – If you’ve read anything I’ve written before, I spent a good portion of last season trying to figure out why Aaron Rodgers was being regarded as highly as he was heading into the year. I mused how a 34-year old quarterback, playing in a new offensive system for the first time in his NFL career, with a head coach he likely saw as a peer — not a coach — was considered one of the elite in the league. The numbers, especially early in the season bore out those thoughts.
With the exception of a fantastic month of October, Aaron Rodgers looked more like Average Rodgers. Well, now enter 2020. He’s had a year to learn both Matt LaFleur’s system, as well as get a better understanding of their relationship as coach-QB. Add to that the drafting of what seems to be an apparent successor in Jordan Love and Rodgers may have found a new chip to glue onto his shoulder, which is when he plays at his best. If you’ve got it, taking a flyer on Rodgers as a safe buy to help diversify your portfolio.
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Dak Prescott (+1400) – I know, hold on a minute, how is anyone under +2000 a long shot? Look at the splits in his games against teams above .500 and below .500 and you can see why. You can also question the motivation he’ll have after getting franchised and making $31.4M this season, more than he probably ever thought he’d make as a fourth round pick. $37.7M, that’s why. That’s the guaranteed value of his contract NEXT season if Dallas tags him again. Extended contract (I hesitate to say long term since Dak apparently wants less years than the Cowboys), that’s why. There’s a lot to be said for someone who has started all 64 possible games in his NFL career through four seasons, but franchise tag or not, he’s still on a one-year deal.
A good/great/MVP type season this year will force Dallas’ hand in a big way. The longshot aspect comes from his nagging inability thusfar to display success against those aforementioned quality teams. I’d be a little less interested in dropping some money on him until a month in when we have a chance to gauge how he’s played against the Texans, Rams, and Seahawks. Could that shift his money line away from your favor, yes, but it could also save you some $$ if he doesn’t play to hopes.
Christian McCaffrey (+3300) – Ok, let’s be clear, he’s a running back, so he has basically no shot. Thing is, with as much ink (pixels? – you know since no one reads actual newspapers anymore) of coverage as he got last year, you’d never know it. He is a unique talent and someone who, if any running back will win the award, it’s him. He’ll get more than 2,000 yards combined rushing and receiving. He’ll catch 80 passes, especially now that he has a new QB that will need an escape valve as Teddy Bridgewater learns a new system.
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Cam Newton (NL) – What, you were expecting Jarrett Stidham here? I’ll say it right now, I am NOT a Cam Newton fan. It’s not for the dabbing, his fashion style in postgame press conferences, or him saying in pre-draft workouts that he wanted to be an icon before he’d ever played a down in the league. Honestly, for me it’s always been about the lack of personal accountability. It’s NEVER his fault. Someone was always against him. Someone always wanted to do him wrong. As soon as adversity arises, his path has been to shrink from responsibility.
There’s a reason he’s here though. Even at 31 after foot and shoulder injuries, he’s still an amazing talent. Add to it that, regardless of whether you like the “Patriots’ Way” or not, Bill Belichick’s track record of reclamation projects of athletes who have been considered headaches or problems by the rest of the league is undeniable. Factor in a healthy offensive line and an offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels who had enough imagination to create and manipulate one-on-one matchups to go 7-4 with Tim Tebow as a starter in Denver? This could be the beginning of Newton’s redemption arc.
Other NFL MVP Odds Worth Monitoring
Kyler Murray (+1000) – Successful rookie season, now has DeAndre Hopkins to throw to, coach who loves to air it out, all good things to put up MVP numbers.
DeShaun Watson (+1800) – Yes, Hopkins is gone and there’s no guarantee of a solid running game with David Johnson, but Watson’s offensive line is the best it’s been in his career and he grew up last season in learning to throw the ball away or tuck and run. Toss in that, as great as Hopkins is and Houston never should have dealt him, at least for so little, Watson’s best success has come with Will Fuller on the field. Fuller stays healthy, Watson will be fine.
Drew Brees (+2500) – He’s an MVP candidate until he’s not, though we’ll see how that gets impacted by a fractured locker room.
Aaron Donald (+10000) – Because I like having a defensive guy on the list. 33 sacks, 45 TFL, and six forced fumbles the last two seasons while playing all 32 games are as good credentials as you’ll find for anyone on that side of the ball.