By: Matt Watkins
Rejoice! We are almost there. Training camps are over. The preseason is winding down… and hopefully you didn’t draft anybody on fantasy who is already on the PUP list. Real football is right around the corner, and for bettors everywhere that means one thing. FUTURES! Specifically, you want to know the NFL MVP Odds.
Well, the buzz about the NFL MVP race seems to center around three players: Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck, and Aaron Rodgers. I’m buying high on two of them, the third, well, just read on.
First, let’s talk about the reigning MVP, Mahomes. He’s the oddsmaker’s favorite at +400. And why shouldn’t he be? He set records for the most TD in the opening game and two games of a season, threw for more than 5,000 yards, chucked 50 touchdowns, and it was not his fault in any way that the Chiefs didn’t represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. He’s flat out the real deal. If there is any concern at all, it’s who he’ll hand the ball off to, but given that Mahomes is a product of the Texas Tech system, I think he could be asked to pass 65 times a game and not miss a beat. Also, if you’re worried about a sophomore slump and that the league will catch up with him, stop. Mahomes was one of the rare players in this day of “will the first round QB start week one” to be pulled aside, asked to carry a clipboard, and actually LEARN the game and the speed of it at the NFL level.
Who Else Has a Shot According to the 2020 NFL MVP Odds?
Next on the NFL MVP odds chart is a +800 for Andrew Luck. He played fairly well to start the season, albeit a little turnover happy, tossing eight interceptions during the Colts 1-5 start. Because of that start and the fact that we tend to judge early and regrade late, by the time Indy righted the ship and got into contention, the story of the AFC South was the Texans nine-game winning streak, thus leaving the squirrel oil aficionado’s season somewhat under the radar. (As an aside, please, please, PLEASE take a peek at the @CaptAndrewLuck Twitter feed. It is one of the most entertaining things you’ll scan all week during the season.) Fact is, during the final 10 weeks of the season, Luck completed 252-of-351 passes for 2,801 yards, and 23 touchdowns as the team went 9-1.
Also at +800 is Rodgers. Maybe I didn’t do my discount double check here, but I just don’t see it. I’ll give him full marks for gutting it out through a knee injury during the season, but I’m having a hard time with the concept that a 35-year old, who has only started under one coach in his entire career will have a resurgence to MVP levels learning a new system for the first time in 14 years. Not helping my confidence are Rodgers completion percentage on third down last season. Luck was 67.8 on first and second, dipping to 65.4 on third. Mahomes was 66.7/62.1. By comparison, Rodgers was 64.3 percent on first and second down before dropping to 56.8 percent on third and was just 54.9 on third and three or more.
So who might emerge from outside the favored trio? Sportsbooks are pretty happy with Carson Wentz NFL MVP Odds sitting at +1000. I’d like to see him finish a full season before going on odds like that. Of course, the ageless wonders of Tom Brady and Drew Brees are in the mix and will be until they decide they won’t be. Don’t be shocked if Baker Mayfield has enough wow moments to pull his name onto the outskirts of the discussion, especially if the Browns contend.
The vast likelihood is that there will be a QB to win the award. After all, a quarterback has won the last six and 12 of the last 13 with only Adrian Peterson interrupting the streak with a 2,000-yard season in 2012. It’s such a signal caller driven award that the first non-QB on the odds sheet is Ezekiel Elliot at +6000.
That said, I’m going to throw one way off the wall idea out there. To even think a defensive player might win could easily warrant a need for psychiatric evaluation, but with the deadline to sign franchise players to multi-year deals past, keep a look out of the corner of your eye at the season Jadaveon Clowney has. With all due deference to Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, and Luke Kuechly, Clowney has the best skill set of any front seven player in the game.
The knock on him, even back at South Carolina is his motor. Now, he gets the to play the disrespect card thanks to the Texans on two levels; both not getting a long term deal and by franchising him as a linebacker, not a defensive end, earning Clowney $2M less this season. He’s playing under a second franchise tag and will be highly motivated to earn his big money contract as a UFA next season, whether from the Texans or someone else. Hell hath no fury like a player at a diva position scorned and if Clowney plays all 16 games with a JJ Watt-esque work ethic, quarterbacks beware and he could become the first MVP candidate on the defensive side of the ball since Lawrence Taylor won it in 1986.