It is possible that one of the Cowboys’ rookies, Ezekiel Elliott or Dak Prescott, is going to win the NFL Regular Season MVP award. However, because they are teammates, they will split votes to some extent, and neither is less than 20/1. While Lions quarterback Matt Stafford, and Raiders QB Derek Carr were legit candidates a month ago, injuries and losses have taken them out of serious consideration. That leaves a three horse race. Who provides the best betting value to take the hardware? Here is a look.
The Falcons quarterback is the favorite because he is the only candidate without an asterisk of some sort. Ryan finished second in the league in passing yards, second in touchdown passes, and led the league in passer rating. The Falcons were the highest scoring team in the NFL, and won their final four games to earn a playoff bye. Ryan helped his team win despite a bad defense, and missing top weapon Julio Jones for a couple of weeks. Ryan is not the most sexy candidate, but he might be the best, particularly if you look at the entire season.
With the Packers playoff chances on life support, Rodgers called his shot. He said Green Bay would run the table, and six weeks later they earned the NFC North title. During those six wins, Rodgers threw for 15 touchdowns without an interception. He completed 71-percent of his passes during that span. Rodgers finished the regular season fourth in total passing yards, first in touchdown tosses, and fourth in passer rating. His team enters the postseason at nearly the same odds to win the NFC as Ryan’s Falcons, despite Atlanta having a bye, and having the right to host the Packers if the teams meet in the postseason.
Whether you think it was justified or not, Brady missed the first four games of the year when he was suspended over the “deflate-gate” scandal from the 2015 AFC Title Game. For those keeping score at home, that means he missed a quarter of the season. Since returning, Brady has been terrific. He finished fourth in the league in yards per game, seventh in touchdown passes, and second in passer rating. New England had the best record in the NFL during the regular season, and lost just once with Brady around. When Rob Gronkowski got hurt, it somehow didn’t effect the Pats. Had Brady played 16 games, he would be a heavy favorite, but he didn’t, so it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts voters.
Ryan is probably the most likely candidate, but his odds aren’t attractive, and he doesn’t have the star quality Rodgers and Brady showed during long stretches this year. The last six weeks for Rodgers are what define an MVP, he put the Packers on his back. While New England was 3-1 without Brady, they were coming off a shutout loss against the Bills when he returned and proceeded to go 11-1. At over 4/1, our hope is there are enough voters on the Eastern seaboard to get Brady to the finish line. All three candidates have different resumes, but they are basically equally deserving.
Photo credit: Mike Morbeck (Aaron Rodgers) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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