Going into Week 7, Russell Wilson, leader of the then-undefeated Seattle Seahawks, was the odds-on favorite to take home the MVP at -120.
In Sunday Night’s 37-34 overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Wilson tossed three interceptions. The turnover-riddled performance is the first blemish on what has been a sterling start for the nine-year pro. Still the favorite to win MVP, Wilson’s odds have dropped to +100, and one or two more games like this may keep the star QB from bringing home his first MVP award.
The Seahawks, at 5-1, remain one of the NFL’s best teams and the favorite to win the NFC. The MVP is most definitely a quarterback’s award, and typically goes to the passer on the league’s best team. With this in mind, it still feels like this is Wilson’s award to lose.
As we near the middle of the 2020 season, there is still a lot of football to be played, and nothing is ever certain in this league.
In that vein, I’d like to take a look at a few other MVP candidates who offer some interesting value.
MVP Futures to Consider
Kyler Murray: +3000
Let’s start with the quarterback who came out ahead of Wilson in Week 7. Murray, in his second year, is leading an explosively fun to watch Cardinals team. Before we take a look at Murray’s numbers, a quick trend-watch.
2019 winner: Lamar Jackson, second year
2018 winner: Patrick Mahomes, second year
2017 season: Carson Wentz was the presumptive winner until tearing his ACL in Week 14, second year
MVP voters like that new-car feel young quarterbacks offer. Once players like Aaron Rodgers (two MVPs), Drew Brees (zero wins) and Wilson (zero) display their excellence, it’s expected they’ll maintain it. There’s nothing exciting about living up to expectations when it comes to sports media. Once they are set, these stars need to reach a new level and lead a dominant team for a chance.
Now, let’s talk Murray. The dual-threat quarterback has led the Arizona Cardinals to a strong 5-2 start, and Sunday’s win was a statement: the Cards are for real.
- Murray’s passing: 1,847 yards, 13 TDs, 7 INTs, 66.8% CMP%
- Murray’s rushing: 437 yards, 7 TDs, 6.7 yards per carry
- Passing: 4,222 yards, 30 TDs, 16 INTs
- Rushing: 999 yards, 16 TDs
Lamar Jackson’s 2019 MVP year:
- Passing: 3,127 yards, 36 TDs, 6 INTs
- Rushing: 1,206 yards, 7 TDs
What sticks out above is the interceptions. Murray needs to protect the ball and stop averaging a pick a game. But, look at those projected total touchdown and yardage numbers. The Cardinals haven’t been shy to use Murray as a runner, and anyone who has watched Arizona this season can see the quickness that made him the top pick in the 2019 draft.
This award is predicated on team success, and the Cardinals will need to keep up their hot start. Murray has the weapons, led by star wideout Deandre Hopkins, to keep piling on points week after week.
At +3000 to win MVP, it’s intriguing value for the second-year speedster.
Ben Roethlisberger: +2500
Big Ben is still going at 38, the leader of the lone unbeaten team in the NFL. As we’ve mentioned, team success is always going to give you a chance for this award. A sure-lock for Comeback Player of the Year, Roethlisberger could load up his trophy case if Pittsburgh finishes atop the strong AFC.
Big Ben’s numbers through six games: 1,446 yards, 13 TDs, 4 INTs, 68.2 CMP%
16-game projection: 3,856 yards, 35 TDs, 11 INTs
Solid yet unspectacular numbers, but Big Ben is distributing the ball beautifully in what has emerged as a three-headed monster at WR in Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
If Pittsburgh continues to win while players like Wilson and Rodgers cool off, I’d expect these odds, currently at +2500, to shoot up. Roethlisberger has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks since 2004 and has yet to win an MVP. An intriguing storyline of a QB making one last-go of it, coming off an injury, and on the best team in the NFL is bound to catch voter’s attention. I will note that Pittsburgh’s defense is far superior than the other two players we take a look at and may merit more praise for the success of this team, if they keep it up.
Baker Mayfield: +10000
Let’s wrap up with the longest of long-shots. Mayfield is fresh off perhaps the best game of his career, tossing five touchdowns in a comeback win against the Bengals.
The Browns are one of the surprises of the NFL this year, starting 5-2. Mayfield has been up-and-down through seven games, but as the Browns continue to lose stars (Chubb out for a few more weeks, Odell out for the season) they are still winning. If Mayfield steps up and leads this team through these injuries, he’s an interesting dark-horse to consider. I think I would need to see a similar performance to this Week 7 gem before I put money on Baker, but he has that mix of emerging player on a surprise team that usually makes the media swoon.
Russ is still the favorite to win this award, and for good reason. The Seahawks are finally transitioning to a pass-first team, and with weapons DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett at his disposal, he’s putting up monster numbers. I’d expect Seattle to be the top-seed in the NFC, but crazier things have happened.
There are so many factors when it comes to football, and with nine weeks left, there’s value here. I’m tossing out .5 units on Murray and Big Ben at these current odds, let us see how it all shakes out.
For more thoughts on NFL betting, follow me on Twitter @griffybets.