The NFL season is just over a month away and the preseason starts soon. As we look toward the season, a big question is on many people’s minds: who will win the Most Valuable Player award?
The league’s most prestigious individual honor traditionally goes to a quarterback. Nine of the past 10 recipients have played that position. However, special performances by players of other positions are not usually ignored either.
This preview takes a look at the 2017/18 NFL Regular Season MVP odds from a couple of the top American sportsbooks and we break down some of the favorites and dark horses for this award. At the end, we’ll offer some final betting predictions and picks for which players seem like the smartest bets.
Brady continues to age like fine wine. At the age of 39, he put up 3,554 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and two interceptions in just 12 games last season, leading the Patriots to wins in 11 of them.
His Pats are still stacked, and Brady has shown no signs of slowing down. If anything, his consistent brilliance will be cause for some MVP voters to go with a more up-and-coming option.
Brady and Rodgers are the two best quarterbacks in the game right now, in some order. The big differences is in the strength of their defenses—the Packers are mediocre at stopping opposing teams, and the Patriots are an elite squad on that side of the ball.
If Green Bay ends up having a record similar to New England and the two top-tier signal-callers play to their traditional levels, Rodgers should be the favorite. Remember, Rodgers threw 18 touchdowns and no interceptions in the final seven games of the 2016 campaign.
The 26-year-old Carr is coming off a third-place MVP finish in his breakout third season. A broken fibula did end his season at Week 16, but he’s back and ready to lead the Raiders once again. He received the biggest contract in league history (five years for $125 million) during the offseason.
Bovada’s odds for him seem too short, though. Carr has really only played one season at an MVP level—does he deserve to be listed ahead of established elite QBs on strong teams, like Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan? Probably not.
Wilson flexed his passing muscles a bit more last season, as he lost perennial Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch. He had a decent year throwing the ball (4,219 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions), but a league-worst offensive line put a bunch of unnecessary pressure on the star quarterback.
The pressure is on his blockers and running game to do at least a little bit better than next season. If that happens, the Seahawks will should win 12 games and more and Wilson should have MVP-caliber stats.
MVP Dark Horses
The concerns with Luck are obvious. He is coming off shoulder surgery and could miss a bit of regular season action, and the Colts may not be good enough around him for the team to have a record as gaudy as some of the other top MVP candidates.
However, the upside with Luck is tremendous. He somehow put up numbers of 4,240 passing yards, 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 15 games last season despite playing the entire year with a partially torn labrum. If his surgery doesn’t leave him too rusty, expect him to go nuts in the passing game.
Watt is the first non-quarterback on this list, which shows how much of a passing league the NFL has become. That said, players who have the ability to single-handedly disrupt opponent’s passing games are also extremely valuable.
Houston fell to 11th in scoring defense last season while Watt played just three games due to a back injury. If he returns, posts stats around 75 total tackles and 20 sacks (he’s reached those numbers twice before) and the Texans’ defense is near the top of the league, he should be in the conversation for MVP.
Johnson’s season did end with an MCL injury last January, but he was completely healthy a couple months after the fact. He starts the 2017 season as the No. 1 pick in most fantasy football drafts.
As a second-year pro, the versatile back led the NFL with 2,118 yards from scrimmage and 20 total touchdowns in 2016. If he nudges those numbers up slightly and the Cardinals make the playoffs, he’ll get a lot of love in the MVP vote.
That moneyline at Bovada is really intriguing for Miller. He’s been an All-Pro linebacker every season of his career except one (2013), when he only played nine games. He’s just a complete beast who wrecks game plans—if you’re willing to take a bit of a flyer here, Miller can give you a huge payoff.
It’s important to remember that Miller will also have the narrative working for him here. The Broncos are in the toughest division in the NFL, have a new head coach (Vance Joseph) and have a weak offense. If Miller can help drag the squad to a playoff berth, he very well could be the first defensive MVP since Lawrence Taylor in 1986.
NFL MVP Picks & Predictions Verdict
- For conservative bettors who prefer going with one of the favorites, Aaron Rodgers (+650 with MyBookie in the MVP odds) would be our pick. Considering his younger age than Brady and the fact that his supporting cast is good (but not amazing, like Brady’s), he should have the right narrative to win.
- For those who enjoy the rush of picking a dark horse, Von Miller (+10000 at Bovada) and J.J. Watt (+8000 at MyBookie) would be this preview’s predictions. Remember, Watt placed second in the voting three seasons ago. Both guys are absolute animals who have the talent to change the stigma of defensive players not being worthy of the league’s highest honors.