Lamar Jackson had a runaway MVP season, as he was the unanimous pick over names like Christian McCaffrey and Russell Wilson. With Patrick Mahomes being out for a few games. He wasn’t in the consideration despite finishing the season strong. Looking ahead at the 2020-21 NFL MVP odds, Mahomes is slightly ahead of Jackson as the favorite. Usual names like Wilson, Carson Wentz, and Deshaun Watson follow.
Since 2000, quarterbacks have won the award all but four times. Marshall Faulk, Shaun Alexander, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Adrian Peterson would be the exceptions. Only nine players have ever won in multiple times, all of them being quarterbacks except Jim Brown. Joe Montana won it back-to-back in 1989 and 1990. Brett Favre won it three years in a row, from 1995-1997. Peyton Manning won it back-to-back in 2003 and 2004. Then again in 2008 and 2009. With such a heavy quarterback presence in the award history, it is no surprise to see quarterbacks with the higher odds. Christian McCaffrey had one of the best seasons of any running back, and was swept. While Jackson had an excellent year, it shows how everything has to fall in line for a running back to win these days.
With the past two MVP winners sitting as favorites right now, Patrick Mahomes opens up at +400. Lamar Jackson comes in at +600. Both teams are in great shape to return to the postseason, and both quarterbacks will be the leading reason why they do make it. Jackson’s 2019 season was one for the record books. He had over 1,200 rushing yards and 43 total touchdowns. Jackson also tossed over 3,000 yards. In 2018, Mahomes had over 5,000 yards, 52 total touchdowns, and also added 272 rushing yards. Both of these were ceiling seasons, and it left everyone else in the dust. Hard to argue against either of these putting together a strong season again. Anything close to these ceiling seasons, and they are MVP winners. With healthy seasons, these numbers are likely the best we will get being this far out. If they find a median in their numbers, we start to look at the next group who have some decent values.
Next In Line
There are legitimate candidates outside of Jackson and Mahomes that can really challenge them for the MVP this year. Russell Wilson was in consideration this past year, as he led the Seahawks to an 11-5 season. Seattle’s success relies upon Wilson. The defense is closer to league average, and the offensive line still isn’t great. Wilson put up strong numbers again in 2019, and remains a safe bet for 4,000+ yards and around 35 total touchdowns. If he can put up some stronger rushing numbers, it would add to his case. At +1000, he is a strong value. The Texans without Deshaun Watson would be a bottom barrel team. He comes in at +1200 to start the year, and I love those odds for him. Watson has the ability to put up 4,500+ all-purpose yards and over 35 total touchdowns. That would be the type of season he would need to really assert himself in an MVP race.
The NFC East was considered weak by many, and both Dallas and Philadelphia did not have any real appeal to be taken seriously in the playoffs. Dak Prescott is likely heading for a franchise tag. Amari Cooper should re-sign in Dallas, and that means Prescott will have the same core around him again. He really broke out this year with 4,902 yards, 30 touchdowns, and some solid rushing numbers as well. The Cowboys lost a lot of one-score games, and in most years Prescott’s numbers would have been good enough to be in the MVP race. Prescott is sitting at +1600, and will be overlooked as an MVP candidate. Carson Wentz is at the same odds, and he willed this Eagles team to a playoff spot last year. The Eagles should be getting him some help, as he was down to backup wide receivers and banged up tight ends over the final few weeks of the season. He still had over 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns.
The Lions roster does not represent their 2019 record. Detroit will land a strong prospect through the draft, whether they trade the pick or not. Either way they will bolster their roster, which is already not a bad one. Green Bay and Minnesota showed struggles at times, and this division still can be wide open. Matthew Stafford had 2,500 yards and 19 touchdowns in just eight games. I love the receiving core around him, and things should only improve with another year of T.J. Hockenson and potentially an addition in the draft. Stafford is a dark horse MVP candidate at +4000. There were some complaints about Kyler Murray winning Rookie of the Year, but he has an advantage being a dual threat. He is at +2000, and Arizona is going to have a chance to be better in 2020. It is a tough division, but a significant jump in wins would put the Cardinals and Murray on the map. He put up 500+ rushing yards, and had 24 total touchdowns. I expect some positive regression for the Cardinals offense, as they failed to convert a lot of red zone chances. Murray putting up 4,500+ all-purpose yards and 30-35 touchdowns would put him in the mix.
Ezekiel Elliott & Christian McCaffrey
There is a clear cut two in terms of running backs that are in favor of winning the MVP award. However, if Christian McCaffrey‘s 2019 numbers weren’t good enough, it is hard to take a chance on him. I have a feeling we won’t be seeing another position outside of quarterback winning the award. Carolina would need to make the playoffs, and that is a tough ask given their defense is in rough shape, and the same goes to the quarterback position. Ezekiel Elliott at the same odds of McCaffrey is a bit odd. Zeke is bound to put up strong numbers and would be a factor for Dallas making the playoffs. Yet, the view of him being valuable enough to take home the award just isn’t there. There would really need to be a Prescott injury and Zeke just carries the team to the playoffs for this to happen.
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