Check out our expert betting picks and analysis of the NFL MVP market.Embed from Getty Images
Patrick Mahomes is a freak. A one-off. AP voters wouldn’t normally select a 23 year old as MVP, but he left them no choice last year.
The guys the voters normally go for have at least five years’ league experience and have dominated their position for at least two seasons, but Mahomes torpedoed that.
No questions, no politics. He proved worthy in his first full year and became the youngest MVP since the 50s. (NB – Dan Marino (1984) and Walter Payton (1977) also won age 23 but were born earlier in the year).
In 2019 – freakish anomalies aside – voters should return to their tried and true formula of age and experience. The difference is this time round Mahomes will be considered in the experienced group.
There’s no risk of a one-season wonder here. This is far from your typical 24 year old in his second full season hoping to break through. He’s already there, smashing records and setting the league alight.
History shows the MVP is often a quarterback (16 of the last 20) or running back (four of 20). The last player outside those positions to win was linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986.
It may seem exclusive but by definition the MVP has to be exceptionally valuable to their team – more valuable than any other player in the league – so they need to see a lot of the ball and, more often than not, score a boatload of points.
Previous winners have typically had at least five years of NFL experience. They were also aged at least 27 – the two exceptions in the last 20 years being Mahomes (23) and Cam Newton (26), who won after going 15-1 in the regular season.
Using the typical MVP profile there is only a very select group of potential winners…
Mahomes (+600) could win with another exceptional year. Statistically speaking he’s likely to regress from 5000 passing yards and 50 touchdowns – because those numbers are off the scale.
But the fact they’re off the scale tells us exactly what we’re dealing with. He is unique – and there’s absolutely no reason he won’t post big numbers again. Something in the region of 4800 yards and 42 TDs could be enough.
Consecutive wins are possible for an exceptional player. Peyton Manning won in consecutive years twice and repeat winners are fairly common – seven of the last 15 MVP awards went to a previous winner.
Tom Brady (+1400) has won the award three times and a fourth is possible. However, age 42, he constantly faces questions of a drop off and with those preconceptions he will really have to shine to be considered the best around. He’s unlikely to top Mahomes in production or spectacle.
Matt LaFleur could provide the impetus to spur Aaron Rodgers (+1400) back to his best after a couple of losing seasons for the Packers. If the LaFleur system clicks, Rodgers has to make the shortlist in his bid for a third title.
They haven’t won it yet, but Andrew Luck (+900), Kirk Cousins (+6600), Drew Brees (+1200) and Russell Wilson (+2000) have the history and production to be crowned MVP on the back of a very good year.
It’s rare to break the age and experience barrier and it requires something outstanding, which pours cold water on the chances of the many talented young QBs around.
The likes of Carson Wentz and Baker Mayfield potentially have the talent but would need either elite production or 14+ regular season wins (like Marino/Newton). At their odds (+1400) it is not worth a bet.
After quarterbacks, running backs are the next most obvious group but those with serious yardage – Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley and Alvin Kamara – don’t tick the age and experience boxes.
Additionally, the value of the running back position is being downgraded culturally in this pass-heavy league, so these guys could struggle to get selected even if they hit 2000 rushing yards.
Aaron Donald could be interesting. The Rams defensive tackle won a second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award last year after gaining 20.5 sacks.
It’s rare for a defensive player to win but Lawrence Taylor was similarly dominant at his position in the 1980s. He, too, was a former two-time DPOY and regular all-pro, so there is a small chance of success if Donald can register another outstanding season.
No one would bet against that and he’s a big price (+8000), but he can only really win if there is no standout quarterback.
The main bet has to be Mahomes. He has the same strong weapons, coaches and schemes as last year – and he’s a year older and more experienced. The voters have to like that.
Kirk Cousins at +6600 is a big price considering the Vikings are only +2800 to lift the Lombardi. He starts his second season in Minnesota with a new offensive coordinator and a team that can make a playoff run. He’s no shoo-in but has a better chance than his odds suggest.
Patrick Mahomes MVP: +600
Kirk Cousins MVP: +6600
The odds shown are for guidance purposes only. They are the the general odds available from a range of sources at the time of writing. Odds will vary between sportsbooks. PFBPro offers no guarantee these odds will be available at your sportsbook.