If you want to bet on NFL MVP at BetMGM, start here: Eliminate all non-quarterbacks.
Voters love quarterbacks. Sure, maybe someone like Michael Thomas or Aaron Donald is so good that voters find someone other than a quarterback to vote for, but it’s unlikely. When J.J. Watt lost the MVP vote in 2014 to a good but not transcendent Aaron Rodgers season, it was clear that no other positions have a real shot. Since the AP handed out its first MVP award in 1957, there have only been three players who didn’t play QB or RB to win: defensive tackle Alan Page, linebacker Lawrence Taylor and kicker Mark Moseley.
Once in a great while a running back will win it, but it takes a record-setting season. Over the last 26 seasons, dating to Emmitt Smith’s win in 1993, there have been 28 Associated Press MVP winners (the award was split twice). Here is the breakdown:
• Twenty-two quarterbacks
• Three running backs who set an NFL single-season touchdown record (Marshall Faulk in 2000, Shaun Alexander in 2005, LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006)
• Three running backs who rushed for 2,000 yards (Barry Sanders in 1997, Terrell Davis in 1998, Adrian Peterson in 2012)
So unless a running back rushes for 2,000 yards or breaks a touchdown record, it’ll likely be a quarterback. And the days of the 2,000-yard running back seem to be over.
Dak Prescott could have a huge year
That brings us to Prescott. Prescott is quite tempting at 14-to-1.
The MVP will need to come from a winning team. The Cowboys are favorites to win the NFC East at BetMGM and most bets on the over/under win total of 9.5 have been on the over. Dallas should be pretty good this season.
Prescott will need volume, and the Cowboys seem fine letting him throw the ball. He had 4,902 passing yards and 30 passing touchdowns last season. He might not face quite as many negative game scripts, in which he’s passing a lot because the Cowboys trail, but he’ll still throw enough.
Prescott also has a lot better infrastructure around him. The Cowboys’ receiver trio of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and first-round pick CeeDee Lamb might be the best in the NFL, or close. Tight end Blake Jarwin should take a step forward with more playing time. Ezekiel Elliott contributes in the passing game (and as we know, he’s a running back so it’s very unlikely he’ll win MVP himself). Most people would say Mike McCarthy is an upgrade from Jason Garrett.
You can see how well this aligns for Prescott to have a big season. And we haven’t even gotten to intangibles, which might be Prescott’s biggest edge.
Prescott will be in headlines all year
In any NFL season, Cowboys are going to be among the most talked about teams and naturally, Dallas’ quarterback will get an inordinate share of attention.
Prescott won’t lack for attention this year. He is playing this season on the franchise tag after he and the Cowboys couldn’t come to a long-term deal. Every performance he has will create headlines and speculation about his contract. It’s possible that works against him, because any Cowboys loss will bring out his critics. But we’re shooting on a 14-to-1 shot, and every big performance will be a huge story. Someone like Russell Wilson will never have that kind of publicity bump, no matter how great he is.
If Prescott, perhaps with some extra motivation in a contract year, has big games at the right times, he’ll have more attention than just about any other NFL player. Let’s not act like that doesn’t matter when it comes to MVP races.
Kyler Murray, Josh Allen are intriguing MVP long shots
Being able to eliminate everyone who doesn’t play quarterback helps define long shot bets for MVP. We start the conversation with only 32 names, and realistically we can cut that list by about half. It’s not like Mitchell Trubisky or Dwayne Haskins Jr. are legitimate contenders just because they play quarterback.
Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals at +2500 stands out after Prescott. He fits the second-year breakout that led to MVP awards for Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, and he has a chance to put up big numbers in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has his detractors, but if the Bills can win the AFC East, he’ll get some buzz, enough to justify the +5000 odds. Two names at 70-to-1 stand out: Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams and Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans. Goff has played very well before and is due some positive regression, and Tannehill is coming off a fantastic 2019 season for a team that should contend for a division title.
It would be an upset if MVP doesn’t go to a quarterback, and you should be able to find someone you like at good odds. Just don’t forget the Cowboys’ quarterback when you go to bet.
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