NFL MVP (Most Valuable Player) is the most prized individual award in pro football, and it provides a tantalising subplot to every single season.
Betting on the MVP race is one of the most volatile markets around, providing weekly swings with one false move potentially ruining a contender’s dreams of picking up the big prize.
One poor performance or one minor injury can wreck everything - continued excellence is the only way to win this bauble.
Let’s look at how the race for NFL MVP stands in 2023, one week into the regular season.
We have a NEW FAVOURITE after Week 2, on the back of a slate of games which saw the league’s highest-paid player endure ANOTHER nightmare:
5/1 Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Miami Dolphins): After that huge game in the opener vs the Chargers, Tua was a little quieter as the Fish knocked off New England to move to 2-0. But his 249 yards and a TD pass were still enough to claim sole possession of favouritism. Next up is a home game against 0-2 Denver, who were picked apart by Washington’s Sam Howell in Week 2.
6/1 Patrick Mahomes (QB, Kansas City Chiefs): Mahomes threw for 305 yards and a pair of scores as the Chiefs bounced back from that season-opening loss to Detroit by winning in Jacksonville. He also welcomed back his favourite target, TE Travis Kelce, from injury. Next up for Mahomes is a home game against the 0-2 Chicago Bears (live on Sky Sports), so that 7/1 now available via a Sky Bet price boost might look excellent value by the early hours of Monday.
9/1 Jalen Hurts (QB, Philadelphia Eagles): Hurts rebounded from a sluggish first half to help Philly overcome the Minnesota Vikings 34-28 on Thursday Night Football. He put up only 193 yards through the air - the majority to DeVonta Smith, but he did add a pair of scores on the ground. Hurts’ stats will be impacted to an extent by the success of the Eagles ground game, and the lack of gaudy passing numbers could adversely affect his MVP chances. Next up for Jalen is a meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football.
10/1 Josh Allen (QB, Buffalo Bills): Allen bounced back from that triple-interception loss on opening night at the Jets by putting the Las Vegas Raiders to the sword in Week 2. He passed for 274 yards and 3 scores in a crushing 38-10 win. Next up for Josh is a trip to Washington to face the 2-0 Commanders, who did allow 33 points in their nailbiting Week 2 win in Denver.
12/1 Joe Burrow (QB, Cincinnati Bengals): Burrow is out from 9/1 to 12/1 on the back of a second consecutive loss, and the only surprise is that the drift is not bigger. Not only did the league’s highest-paid player and his Bengals team fall to 0-2, ‘Joe Cool’ aggravated a calf injury in the process. His status is now uncertain for the crucial Week 3 showdown with the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football. Burrow needs to play, and excel, to get his MVP bid right back on track.
12/1 Trevor Lawrence (QB, Jacksonville Jaguars): Lawrence saw his odds drift out from 9/1 (a la Burrow) following an underwhelming display in a loss to the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. Lawrence completed just 53% of his passes and did not find the endzone as the Jags failed to fire offensively in falling to 1-1 on the season. Next up for Trevor is a home game against the Texans, which should be the ideal bounce-back opportunity
12/1 Lamar Jackson (QB, Baltimore Ravens): Lamar was once again highly efficient in a big win for the Ravens in Cincinnati, throwing for 237 yards and a pair of scores and adding another 54 yards on the ground. This is still not peak Lamar, but he is at least trending in the right direction heading into a Week 3 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts.
16/1 Dak Prescott (QB, Dallas Cowboys): It’s a little surprising to see no movement in Prescott’s MVP odds after the dominant Dallas Cowboys knocked off the Jets 30-10 in Week 2. Dak was really good in throwing for 255 yards and a pair of scores against an excellent New York defense, and he should feast in Week 3 as Dallas heads out to Arizona to face the 0-2 Cardinals.
16/1 Justin Herbert (QB, Los Angeles Chargers): Herbert didn’t play badly in Week 2, throwing for 305 yards and a pair of scores. But his team fell to 0-2 with another agonising loss - this time 27-24 after OT to the Tennessee Titans. Herbert’s life is made harder when his offense becomes one-dimensional, and the loss of RB Austin Ekeler to injury is a major concern. Next up is a must-win showdown with Minnesota in Week 3 (live on Sky Sports).
If you’re wondering where the non-QBs are, we’ll come next onto the grim MVP stats for anybody not playing under center in recent years. But just for the record, San Francisco RB Christian McCaffrey is a 50/1 shot while Dallas LB Micah Parsons is the shortest defensive player at 66/1.
If anybody ever tells you that the NFL is not all about the quarterback in 2023, just cite the latest odds for MVP. Then show them the list of previous winners. Nobody can deny it.
The Pro Football Writers of America began voting for MVP in 1975, and since then the men under center have absolutely dominated. In total, some 33 QBs have won the award outright in that time while Brett Favre shared with Barry Sanders in 1997.
Running backs are next best with 11 wins along with that Sanders share. But we haven’t had an RB take the prize since Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings in 2012.
Now - partly thanks to rule changes - it is all about the QB. They have won the last 10 awards and 18 of the last 20. For your reference, here are the last 10:
The only two players outside QB and RB to be NFL MVP in the modern era are both generational talents - linebacker Lawrence Taylor (the only defensive winner) in 1986 and San Francisco WR Jerry Rice one year later.
This isn’t some nationwide fan vote - it is taken incredibly seriously. As such only 50 sports writers get to cast their vote for NFL MVP.
The big thing to note about the voting is WHEN it happens. Votes are cast at the end of the NFL regular season, so any success in the playoffs and Super Bowl DOES NOT count.
This is all about sustained excellence and brilliance throughout a 17-game season. Hot streaks in January and February do not apply.
NFL MVP is now announced at the league’s annual Awards Ceremony, a glitzy bash which takes place in the host Super Bowl city on the Thursday of game week.
That means the 2023 MVP should be crowned in Las Vegas, Nevada on Thursday February 8, 2024.
Odds correct at 0945 BST (20/09/23)
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