–Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is favored to win his first MVP award
– Ryan led an average team with a bad defense to the playoffs with a record of 11-5
– The Falcons had the most potent offense in the NFL during the regular season
The Most Valuable Player is the pinnacle of individual achievement in any sport. The general concept of the award isn’t so much to honor the best player, but the player that has most value to their team. Sometimes it ends up being one and the same. Many people would be surprised to learn that the National Football League doesn’t really have an ‘official’ MVP Award like the National Hockey League’s Hart Trophy or the National Basketball Association’s Maurice Podoloff Trophy (I had to Google that one).
Given their reputation for micromanagement it’s kind of strange that the NFL has ‘outsourced’ their MVP selection for their entire history. The winner of the Associated Press (AP) vote of sportswriters is currently recognized as the ‘official’ NFL MVP and the league holds a ceremony to validate the selection. Throughout history, other organizations have selected the winner including the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA), and United Press International (UPI).
Here’s something that *isn’t* a surprise–offense rules the AP MVP Award. The Associated Press has selected a ‘Most Valuable Player’ since 1957 and the overwhelming majority have been offensive players with the majority of those being quarterbacks and running backs. Only two defensive players (Alan Page and Lawrence Taylor) and one special teams player (Mark Moseley) have won the MVP Award. There’s only been one unanimous winner of the AP version of the MVP Award–New England quarterback Tom Brady in 2010.
Here’s the Sports Betting Experts odds for the NFL/AP Regular Season MVP Award. We’ll then quickly review the qualifications of each player and the liklihood they’ll win:
NFL REGULAR SEASON MVP AWARD PROPOSITION BET ODDS
Player to win 2016-2017 Regular Season Most Valuable Player Award
Matt Ryan: -210
Aaron Rodgers: +375
Tom Brady: +525
Ezekiel Elliott: +1850
Dak Prescott: +4500
Derek Carr: +7500
LeVeon Bell: +8000
David Johnson: +10000
Russell Wilson: +10000
Matt Ryan–If the criteria for ‘Most Valuable Player’ is the player that has the most value to his individual team there’s no other choice than Ryan. Ryan’s sustained, season long excellence took a not particularly memorable Falcons team with a horrible defense to the playoffs as the second seed with a record of 11-5. The Falcons were the #2 total offense and had the #1 scoring offense–and that wasn’t even close. Atlanta put up 33.8 PPG, or 4.5 PPG more than the second place New Orleans Saints. Ryan led the league in passing yards per attempt, passer rating and Total QBR. He was third in completion percentage and second in touchdown passes. This would be his first MVP award and given the fact that his only legit challengers are Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady his win is almost a ‘lock’.
Aaron Rodgers–Led the league in touchdown passes. After a poor start to the season (4-6) pretty much carried the Packers to a six game winning streak and a division title. Has 18 touchdown passes without an interception over Green Bay’s last seven games and played his best when the stakes were highest late in the season. The two biggest things working against Rodgers? His two previous MVP Awards. Only four players in history have won more than two MVP Awards–Peyton Manning, Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, and Brett Favre. Not sure the NFL is ready to put Rodgers in that class regardless of his qualifications.
Tom Brady–I’d give the MVP Award to Brady just for having the biggest balls. Finally gave in to Roger Goodell’s seething obsession with pinning the silly ‘DeflateGate’ controversy on him and spent his four game suspension on vacation with his supermodel wife. When he returned, had a huge chip on his shoulder and basically outplayed everyone else in the league over the remaining 12 games. His 28-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio is a record for a single season and New England finished with the best record in the league. Has the same problem as Rodgers–if the NFL isn’t going to put Green Bay’s quarterback into the elite company of players with more than two MVP awards they’re definitely not going to do so for Brady and particularly after they suspended him for the first four games of the season.
Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott–I’m covering the Dallas Cowboys’ two headed rookie monster together because the success of each is at least part of the reason why they won’t win. Both are excellent meaning that the ‘value to the team’ of each is diminished. Plus there’s only been one rookie MVP winner–Jim Brown in 1957–and it’s doubtful that you’ll ever see one again.
LeVeon Bell–Bell’s rushing attack was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ most consistent weapon this year. Won’t win because he had plenty of help including Ben Roethlisberger who finished #10 in QBR. Besides, only three non-quarterbacks have won the MVP Award since 2000.
David Johnson–2015 third round pick Johnson might have been the ‘breakout star’ of the year as he gave the Arizona Cardinals a long absent rushing attack. Won’t win because his body of work is solid but not MVP worthy. Plus there’s the ‘name recognition’ thing.
Russell Wilson–Wilson is one of my favorite players in the NFL, a tough dude who just finds ways to complete passes and win games. The problem is that he didn’t have a better season than the other four quarterbacks ahead of him on this list.