By Jason McIntyre
FOX Sports Betting Analyst
Football is officially back, baby! And when it comes to gambling, NFL MVP is one of the most fun futures bets you can make.
If you don’t mind tying up some of your bankroll for a little while, I can help you dig through the numbers. You should be able to narrow down who you want to throw money on based on one factor — the quarterback position.
The last nine MVPs have been quarterbacks, and in the last 15 years, a signal-caller has been named the League’s Most Valuable Player 14 times.
A couple of those players started as long shots to win the award, but those are usually anomalies. Lamar Jackson (2019) opened at 100-1 but was bet down to 50-1 before the season started after Coach Harbaugh indicated he would have a historic number of rushing attempts. Similarly, Patrick Mahomes’ (2018) opened at +3300 only because he entered that season with only one regular season start under his belt.
When it comes to this upcoming season, Trey Lance, Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence are all young, talented quarterbacks to watch, and they have long-shot odds. However, ask yourself one important question before betting on those guys…will the 49ers, Jets or Jaguars end the year as top playoff seeds? Unless you believe their respective teams will be among the top playoff seeds in their conferences, they truly don’t have a chance.
However, there are a handful of quarterbacks I think really do stand a chance at winning MVP at the end of the season, so let’s dive into my picks. And as always, all the odds are via FOX Bet.
1. Justin Herbert: +1000 at FOX Bet (bet $10 to win $110 total)
Herbert’s hype has gotten a little out of control, so you wonder if the 24-year-old can handle all the attention. But he was one of the six best quarterbacks in the NFL last season, using any advanced metric, throwing for 5,014 yards and 38 touchdowns. And, rookie Zion Johnson’s addition to the OL bolsters the unit’s weakest group, so the Chargers’ offense should be lethal again. Justin could breeze through last season’s accomplishments as easy as Sunday morning.
However, this bet is not without risk. This is still the toughest division in football. There is a scenario where the Chargers could finish 10-7 in the loaded AFC and still miss the playoffs, and as mentioned above, usually the MVP is on a team with a top seed in the postseason.
2. Josh Allen: +700 at FOX Bet (bet $10 to win $80 total)
The Bills are Super Bowl favorites, and Allen has arguably the best skill position group in the AFC at his disposal. They’re three-deep at running back after adding James Cook — Dalvin’s younger brother — in the NFL Draft. And receiver Gabriel Davis seems poised for a breakout role after his eight receptions, 201 yards and four touchdown performance in the nail-biting playoff loss to the Chiefs.
After a few stumbles last November, Allen completed 77% of his passes and had nine TDs and no interceptions in two playoff games. The only question about the former Wyoming star is how he’ll adjust to the loss of OC Brian Daboll, who was replaced by Ken Dorsey — Buffalo’s QB coach for the last three seasons.
3. Russell Wilson: +1700 at FOX Bet (bet $10 to win $180 total)
Which is more unbelievable — that Russell Wilson has never received an MVP vote or that he’s the most popular MVP bet so far? Wilson is set up for a monster year with an improved offensive line and a healthy Denver receiving core.
If you look hard enough, you can find some stats that point to the Broncos‘ defense being … overrated. If that’s the case, Wilson will need his usual late-game heroics to pull out some victories, and with five prime-time games, he’ll have plenty of chances to impress the voters.
4. Kirk Cousins: +5000 at FOX Bet (bet $10 to win $510 total)
Cousins is of the most polarizing QBs in the league, but he graded out as a top 10 QB last season. Cousins also has one of the best young receivers in the league in Justin Jefferson. But more than anything, he has a new, offensive-minded head coach. Kevin O’Connell comes from the Sean McVay coaching tree, and we just saw what McVay disciple Zac Taylor did for Joe Burrow.
Side note: there’s no way Aaron Rodgers wins a third-straight MVP, especially with all signs pointing to Green Bay being carried by its defense this year.
5. Tom Brady: +850 at FOX Bet (bet $10 to win $860 total)
Tom Brady is about to turn 45, which is unfathomable for an NFL quarterback. But as we have all learned, never count out TB12. The addition of Julio Jones is a nice pickup, since Brady will be without wide receiver Chris Godwin for at least two months. But the biggest reason Brady is this high is that the NFC South is a joke.
The Bucs will once again win at least 11 games and perhaps even snag the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Brady was the MVP in 2017, and if he wins a fourth, he’d match Aaron Rodgers and trail only Peyton Manning for most of all time.
6. Patrick Mahomes: +800 at FOX Bet (bet $10 to win $90 total)
Mahomes lost his most-trusted receiver in Tyreek Hill, yet he’s only behind Allen in odds for the award? Hmmm.
He’s coming off his worst season in the NFL, in which he had the lowest QB rating of his career. Mahomes also led the league in turnovers and lowest yards-per-attempt. At times last year, it appeared teams had figured him out with the two-high safety defense.
But even with all that said, look for Mahomes to put up big regular season stats. This just isn’t a price I love.
7. Lamar Jackson: +2200 at FOX Bet (bet $10 to win $230 total)
He already has one MVP, and now he’s playing for one of the richest QB contracts in league history. Lamar Jackson is for you if you’re the type that likes to bet on players who bet on themselves.
The pass catchers remain an issue. Second-year WR Rashod Bateman is the top option after the Hollywood Brown trade, but Jackson has dealt with this throughout his tenure in Baltimore. There is also some trepidation about how another year of OC Greg Roman and Jackson together will pan out since Roman doesn’t make necessary adjustments historically.
Remember, it took three seasons with Roman and Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco for the defenses to solve the read option.
8. Matthew Stafford: +1600 at FOX Bet (bet $10 to win $170 total)
Stafford had the best season of his career in his first season in L.A. In the playoffs, he led the Rams to three straight one-score victories throwing for nine TDs and just three interceptions. But, he struggled in the regular season, leading the NFL with 17 interceptions, including seven in the final three games. However, when you win the Super Bowl, all is forgotten.
On offense, there’s good news and bad news this season for Stafford. The good news is that he has a healthy running back in Cam Akers and that the Rams swapped Odell Beckham for Allen Robinson at receiver. The bad is that the offensive line lost its best player and locker room leader in Andrew Whitworth.
9. Joe Burrow: +1300 at FOX Bet (bet $10 to win $140 total)
Joe Cool had one of the best second years in NFL history, completing 70% of his passes and leading the Bengals to the Super Bowl. But he was also sacked a league-high 51 times, so Cincinnati wisely upgraded the offensive line in the offseason.
Why isn’t Burrow higher on the list with all of his weapons back? Well, the Bengals have the toughest schedule in the league down the stretch. They come out of the bye with two road games, then they host the Chiefs and Browns. After that, they go back on the road for the Bucs and Patriots and close out with the Bills and Ravens.
If Burrow somehow wins six of those games, he will have a very good shot at the MVP. I think going .500 in those games is much more realistic, which won’t help his MVP case.
10. Aaron Jones: +12500 at FOX Bet (bet $10 to win $1,260 total)
The top 17 players with the best odds to win MVP are all QBs. But if you want to take a long shot non-quarterback to win the award, consider Aaron Jones of Green Bay.
With Davante Adams gone and the Packers’ pass-catching group not looking very impressive, Jones could have a LaDainian Tomlinson-type of season where he racks up over 2,300 yards from scrimmage and at least 20 touchdowns.
AJ Dillon will score some, but the bet here is three-fold. The Packers’ offensive line is considered a top-five unit and goes into 2022 much healthier than last year; Jones should easily surpass his 2021 receiving numbers (52-391-6) and the schedule of opposing run defenses features just three games against projected units that rank in the top 10. At these odds, he is worth some pizza money.
Jason McIntyre is a FOX Sports betting analyst, and he also writes about the NFL and NBA Draft. He joined FS1 in 2016 and has appeared on every show on the network. In 2017, McIntyre began producing gambling content on the NFL, college football and NBA for FOX Sports. He had a gambling podcast for FOX, “Coming Up Winners,” in 2018 and 2019. Before arriving at FOX, he created the website The Big Lead, which he sold in 2010.
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