The NFL Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is the most prestigious achievement for an individual player. This award generally goes to the best player in the league during a particular season.
While statistical accomplishments are fundamental in selecting the MVP, intangible achievements play a significant role. So, here are five things to know about how to bet on NFL MVP picks.
Sportsbooks release NFL MVP odds during the preseason. The odds are set based on the previous season’s outcomes and performances. In essence, preseason MVP odds are a reasonable estimate of which players can significantly impact the upcoming season.
Bear in mind that preseason odds are educated guesses, at best.
No one has a crystal ball to see the future. As a result, preseason odds should not be considered definitive. Nevertheless, they set the stage for the MVP race with the understanding that bettors have to be flexible.
Once the season begins, the odds can quickly shift. As information flows during training camp, preseason games, and the first few weeks of the regular season, oddsmakers can formulate a clearer picture of who will be in contention.
Of course, there are always unexpected variables to consider. For instance, no player is immune from a season-ending injury. Also, star players may miss significant chunks of the season, causing them to lose ground on other leading candidates.
These factors underscore why betting on the MVP during the preseason is only sometimes a good idea. Of course, it might be a fun idea to bet on the right player during training camp. But bettors keen on knowing how to bet on NFL MVP might think twice about picking a winner during the preseason.
That being said, sports information available during the season provides greater insight into who will take home the hardware. Ultimately, following the betting lines during the season can paint a clear picture of who is poised to take the trophy. A good rule of thumb is to wait until the dust settles at the end of the regular season. By then, bettors and oddsmakers have a good indication of the genuine contenders.
Favorites and Long Shots to bet on NFL MVP
Preseason favorites have the best odds based on their track record and pedigree. However, recent performances also play a crucial role. Stars coming off unproductive years may get lower odds because of recent injury history, poor performances, or lack of team support.
Then again, some players receive significant support thanks mainly to their team’s performance. Individual performances get magnified when a team wins 12 or 13 games. In contrast, great performances get overlooked when a team loses more than ten games.
Nevertheless, some bettors always keep an eye out for long shots. These are players no one would honestly expect to win the award. As a result, they may sometimes not be on the board when preseason odds are released. While picking a long shot can be the stuff of legends, anyone who knows how to bet on football understands that selecting a long shot is quite challenging.
Consider the number of MVP winners by position since 1957:
- Quarterback – 46 winners
- Running back – 18 winners
- Defensive tackle – 1 winner (Alan Page, Minnesota, 1971)
- Kicker – 1 (Mark Mosely, Washington, 1982)
- Linebacker – 1 (Lawrence Taylor, NY Giants, 1986)
The numbers don’t lie. The NFL MVP award is predominantly quarterback-centered. While anyone can technically win it, the likelihood of a non-QB winning is relatively low. The last non-QB to win the MVP was Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in 2012.
This sports information shows that the safe bet is on a quarterback, but bettors looking for a long shot should set their sights on an elite running back. So far, no wide receiver has ever won the award, and defensive players get little consideration (unless they have a monster year like Lawrence Taylor and their team wins the Super Bowl). In addition, the lone kicker to win the award seems more like an anomaly than a possible trend.
Team performance is critical in picking the MVP, as the winner will never come from a bad team. Candidates with outstanding seasons on lesser teams will get little consideration. Players’ performance influences opinions on how to bet on NFL MVP, while players on the best teams are more likely to win the award.
Here is a breakdown of ten MVP winners spanning 2012-2021 and their team’s record. This period is significant as it includes the last non-QB to take home the trophy.
- 2021 – Aaron Rodgers, Packers, 13-4
- 2020 – Aaron Rodgers, Packers, 13-3
- 2019 – Lamar Jackson, Ravens, 14-2
- 2018 – Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs, 12-4
- 2017 – Tom Brady, Patriots, 13-3
- 2016 – Matt Ryan, Falcons, 11-5
- 2015 – Cam Newton, Panthers, 15-1
- 2014 – Aaron Rodgers, Packers, 12-4
- 2013 – Peyton Manning, Broncos, 13-3
- 2012 – Adrian Peterson, Vikings, 10-6
This list shows a consistent trend. Teams that win at least 12 games can catapult their QB to MVP status.
The exception is Matt Ryan and the 11-5 Falcons. In 2016, Ryan had a good year. He passed for nearly 5,000 yards and added 30 touchdowns. That year, the Falcons went to the Super Bowl, falling to the Patriots in OT.
Then, there is Peterson’s monster 2012 campaign. The Vikings were 10-6, but Peterson rushed for over 2,000 yards and added 12 TDs. The Vikings made the playoffs but fell to the Packers in the Wild Card round.
These numbers highlight how MVPs came from good teams even when the player himself didn’t have his best statistical season.
Teams With No MVP History
A good strategy to bet on NFL MVP picks is the process of elimination. In particular, this strategy focuses on the teams with no MVP players in their history.
Six teams have never had a player win the MVP award:
- Arizona Cardinals
- Houston Texans
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- New Orleans Saints
- New York Jets
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
These teams have boasted some great players throughout their history. However, they never took home the hardware. For example, Saints legend Drew Brees won the Super Bowl in 2009. That year, Peyton Manning took home the MVP award.
Those that know how to bet on football like to look at the most obvious choices first. For instance, the Green Bay Packers have the most MVP winners, with ten. The Colts are second, with nine winners in their history. Other notable teams include the 49ers and Broncos.
Starting with obvious choices is a good rule of thumb. From there, other less-obvious options may emerge. For example, players with unusually good or record-breaking seasons could be prime long-shot candidates.
No Super Bowl, No Problem
Winning the Super Bowl is not an accurate predictor of who wins the MVP. Sports information suggests that winning the title can indicate who takes the trophy. However, that is only sometimes the case.
Looking at the MVPs from 2012 to 2021, only four reached the Super Bowl:
- 2017 – Tom Brady
- 2016 – Matt Ryan
- 2015 – Cam Newton
- 2013 – Peyton Manning
Unfortunately, all four QBs lost in the Big Game. The last time the NFL MVP won the Super Bowl was when Kurt Warner did it in 1999 when he was with the St. Louis Rams. Nevertheless, making the playoffs is critical in choosing the MVP winner. That is why looking at playoff contenders is an excellent place to start searching for the next MVP.
The Final Verdict
Choosing the NFL MVP depends on several different factors. Injuries can be the most significant one of all. Players destined to have big years can have their campaigns and careers derailed by injuries. Bettors should never forget that the MVP award goes beyond individual performances.
A big year is essential, but statistical outliers are only enough if the team makes the playoffs. While winning the Super Bowl is not a strong indicator, QBs on playoff teams are almost always the obvious choice. Based on that, narrowing the field becomes much more manageable.
Bet on NFL MVP FAQs
The official name for the NFL MVP award is the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award. It has been given to the best player in the league since 1957.
A panel of sportswriters from the Associated Press vote on the players eligible for the award at the end of the regular season. Each vote equals one point, and the player with the most points wins the award.
There have been two unanimous winners: Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens in 2019 and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots in 2010.
Peyton Manning has won a total of 5 MVP awards. Aaron Rodgers has taken the trophy four times.
Aaron Rodgers won the MVP award in 2020 and 2021 with the Green Bay Packers.