To hear it from social media, sports talk radio or any other outlet that discusses the NFL, the MVP race is still wide open.
It’s not. Patrick Mahomes is the runaway favorite right now. Just check the odds.
Over the past few weeks, Mahomes has distanced himself. Two weeks ago he was the favorite at BetMGM but just +180 to win. The next week he went to -118. Then BetMGM cut off anyone who wanted in on the Mahomes action.
Mahomes is now -400 to win MVP. That means someone would need to bet $400 to win just $100. The implied odds give Mahomes an 80 percent chance to win.
That means there’s a 20 percent chance he doesn’t win. So who could beat him down the stretch?
What are the odds for NFL MVP?
It’s hard to imagine someone outplaying Mahomes the rest of the way, but it could happen. Most likely it would be a Mahomes injury that allows someone to take the lead. That can happen too.
If you are one of the many who insist this player or that player needs to “be in the MVP conversation,” you can get good odds on anyone but Mahomes to win at BetMGM:
Aaron Rodgers +500
Russell Wilson +700
Ben Roethlisberger +2000
Kyler Murray +2500
No other player is less than 33-to-1.
Murray was a hot name for the “in the MVP conversation” folks a few weeks ago but that has cooled. We’re practically down to three challengers to Mahomes, who are each having great years in his own way.
Who could beat Patrick Mahomes for MVP?
Let’s look at the arguments for Rodgers, Wilson and Roethlisberger vs. Mahomes. If someone like Derrick Henry (+3300) goes nuts and rushes for 200 yards a game the rest of the way, we’ll reassess, but for now it’s hard to make a decent argument for anyone else well down the list.
Mahomes vs. Roethlisberger: The difference with MVP betting and most other betting is you’re handicapping voters in the MVP race.
If the Steelers go 16-0, some voters will look to reward Roethlisberger. He has played well, but it’s hard to argue that he has been a better player than Mahomes. Still, 16-0 is a magical number and many voters like wins. I don’t know that 15-1 gets it done for Roethlisberger, but you’ll hear some buzz if the Steelers go undefeated. It wouldn’t be right because Roethlisberger hasn’t been as good as Mahomes, but you can’t rule it out.
Mahomes vs. Wilson: Wilson was the big favorite early in the season. The narrative of Wilson never getting an MVP vote despite an outstanding career (the same can be said about Roethlisberger) is strong. Mahomes has an MVP and Wilson might not have many more chances. Boredom and wanting to spread the award around is a thing among voters. Ask Michael Jordan, who had to give away MVPs to Charles Barkley and Karl Malone in the 1990s.
Wilson is a remarkable player and his stats other than interceptions (he has 10, Mahomes has two) aren’t that far off Mahomes’ pace. Wilson faces an easy schedule the rest of the way and he could put together a stretch that could get very buzzy. If Wilson finishes strong, he could be the Barkley to Mahomes’ Jordan this season.
Mahomes vs. Rodgers: Mahomes is better than Rodgers in completion percentage, yards, yards per attempt, he has fewer interceptions, and even more rushing yards. Mahomes’ team has a better record, and that matters to voters. Rodgers has more touchdowns (33 to 30) and a better rating (117.6 to 115.5). The stats are close enough that any of them could flip down the stretch.
The main argument for Rodgers seems to be that his supporting cast isn’t as good as the team around Mahomes. It’s a poor way to choose an MVP — penalizing the better player because he has good teammates is illogical — but it happens. You’ll hear it a lot down the stretch, even if it’s not all that accurate (Davante Adams vs. Tyreek Hill is a wash, Aaron Jones is better than any back the Chiefs have, Travis Kelce is clearly better than anyone else on the Packers, but Mahomes makes the non-Hill receivers on the Chiefs better, just like Rodgers makes his non-Adams receivers better).
Rodgers has been remarkable, putting to rest questions that he was slowing down in his late 30s (and don’t fool yourself, the Packers don’t trade up to draft his replacement if the team didn’t believe that too). He just hasn’t been as good as Mahomes. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it has been close enough that the gap is manageable.
Most likely, Mahomes is on his way to a second MVP. There shouldn’t be voter fatigue yet, though his brilliance is starting to be taken for granted. But we like to debate MVP, even when there’s not really a debate.
There is no race for MVP right now, no matter what you hear. There are five weeks left this season. We’ll see if anyone can catch up to Mahomes.
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