Posted in: NFL
Hello, football fans! As we head into week fourteen of NFL action, we have what is shaping up to be a surprisingly close race for this year’s NFL MVP Award. In this article, I will lay out all the facts about each candidate and give you my pick on who I think is going to win the award. Let’s get started!
This late in the season there aren’t many guys left that books are taking action on to win the MVP Award. Below I have listed the current players that you can bet to win this year’s NFL MVP Award. It is a small, yet well deserving field of players.
Before we jump into my predictions, I wanted to take a minute to take a look back at who tends to win this award. When you look back at the last ten NFL MVP’s one thing certainly seems to stick out. It’s almost all quarterbacks. Just one time in the last decade has a player that wasn’t a quarterback won the award. That was in 2012 when running back Adrian Peterson took home the honors. And that was the year that Peterson ran for over 2,000 yards. It takes something very special for a non-QB to even be considered.
The other factor that has been very consistent is the fact that all the players that won the award were on good teams. This award has basically evolved into the quarterback on the best team in the league award. Going back to 2007, Tom Brady has won the award three times, Peyton Manning has won the award three times, and Aaron Rodgers won it twice. It is rare that the award goes to someone that isn’t considered pro football royalty, and it tends to be a bit of a legacy award, rewarding both a great season and a great career.
This year could change all of that though as of our remaining four candidates, Drew Brees is the only one that would seem to stand out as an all-time great quarterback, giving the other three candidates all a chance to make history.
The market on Mahomes has been a little all over the place this season. Just one week ago, Mahomes was offering a price of +250. But after having yet another statistically huge game, Mahomes finds himself as the favorite with just three weeks left to play. The one big knock on Mahomes has been his play in big games. He has done a remarkable job of compiling elite stats against bad teams, but when his team has needed him the most, he has struggled turning the ball over.
In the Chiefs two losses this season, Mahomes has a total of seven turnovers. From a purely statistical standpoint though, Mahomes seems to clearly be the guy. He leads the NFL in passing yards with 4,300. He has thrown 43 touchdowns, which is first in the league by a wide margin, as Andrew Luck is second with just 34. Mahomes even has a reasonable shot to break the single-season all-time passing touchdown record of Peyton Manning, who threw 51 touchdowns in 2013. He also has a chance to break Brees single-season record for passing yards, of 5,477.
The Chiefs play the Los Angeles Chargers next, and the Chargers have one of the stingiest defenses in the league, as they are allowing just over twenty points a game and are the sixth best team against the pass in the NFL. Following that game, they head to Seattle, always a very tough place to play, to play against a Seahawks team that is in the midst of fighting for a playoff spot. Seattle is eight in the league against the pass.
Mahomes and the Chiefs then wrap up the season at home against Oakland, a spot that seems like it will be a great opportunity for Mahomes to pad his stats to finish off the season. In the Chiefs week thirteen matchup with Oakland, Mahomes threw for three hundred yards and four scores. The problem here is that the Chiefs might not be playing for anything at that point, so they could use that week to rest Mahomes, or at least limit his play, somewhat.
So, I think that Mahomes is the very deserving favorite at this point, but the race is certainly not over. If Mahomes finishes with a flurry and breaks either the single-season passing yards or TD mark, you can go ahead and just give him the award. But, if he follows his trend of struggling against good teams and the Chiefs lose two out of their last three games with Mahomes turning the ball over a lot, he could easily slide out of the top spot. Right now, this is Mahomes award to lose, but we were saying that very same thing about Drew Brees last week, so buckle up, it’s going to be a wild finish!
And that brings us here to Brees as the second favorite. Brees had this award all but locked up three weeks ago. His Saints team had won ten straight games, and he was piling up prolific stats. He even had the emotional vote on his side as he had just broken the NFL’s all-time regular season passing yards record and he was the talk of the NFL. Then the wheels started to fall off a bit for Brees. The last three weeks Brees has averaged just 166 passing yards a game. The Saints lost one game to the Dallas Cowboys to snap their long winning streak, and nearly made it two straight losses last week, as the Tampa Bay Bucs had a double-digit lead on them before Bree rallied the troops for a fourth-quarter comeback.
Even with these recent struggles, Brees will still throw for over 4,000 yards by the end of the season, and he has the second fewest interceptions any QB, with just four on the season. The four picks are second to just Aaron Rodgers, who just broke the NFL record for most consecutive passes without an interception. Brees leads the NFL in quarterback rating at a 120.8 rating.
And unlike Mahomes, Brees has a soft schedule to finish the year. The Saints play the Carolina Panthers twice in the next three weeks. The Panthers have lost five straight games, and their pass defense is a joke, twentieth in the league. Those games sandwich a game with a Pittsburgh Steelers team that has been getting pounded recently, losers of three straight games, and just gave up more than 300 yards passing to Derek Carr and the last place Oakland Raiders.
It has been a bit worrisome that the Saints and Bree specifically have been struggling the last several weeks. But with a couple of great matchups on the horizon, I can see Brees racking up some gaudy stats and getting himself right back into this MVP race.
I don’t think Philip Rivers really even belongs in this conversation right now. While Rivers is having a great statistical season, and his Chargers are an overachieving 10-3 team, he just doesn’t compare well to the other two QBs in the race. Rivers has fewer TD passes, passing yards, and a lower QB rating than both Mahomes and Brees. And when you look at Rivers historical stats, this is a pretty average season for the longtime Charger.
While Rivers has a great TD-INT ration of 29-6, he isn’t on pace to set his own single-season bests for touchdown passes or yards this year. This is just an average Philip Rivers season, and he has never won the award before, so I have a hard time believing he will be taken seriously this year either. The one thing that is a bit intriguing about Rivers though is that he is set to go head to head with Mahomes next week.
The Chiefs are, by far, the worst team against the pass in the NFL. In week one against KC, Rivers threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns. So, there is reason to believe that the statistical gap between Rivers and Mahomes and Brees could tighten up after next weekend. And if Rivers manages to go into Kansas City and knock off the Chiefs, in a game that has enormous playoff implications for both teams, he is certain to get a major boost in his MVP campaign.
But on the flipside, if he gets struggles, and the Chargers get blown out with Mahomes leading the way, you can go ahead and delete Rivers from this list. I don’t hate a flyer on Rivers at a great price, but he will need a huge finish, and some significant help from the guys above him if he wants a real shot at taking home the award. This is the definition of a longshot.
I love what Aaron Donald has been able to do for the Los Angeles Rams this season. Donald gets double-teamed a league most, 70% of the time. Just to put that into perspective, JJ Watt, is second in double-team percentage at 46%. This guy never has to beat just one man. Yet, despite the fact that he almost always gets doubled, he leads the league in sacks with 16.5, he has also forced four fumbles which is good for third in the NFL. Everyone in the stadium knows he is coming, and teams do everything they can to stop him, and yet he still dominates.
That’s the case for Donald to win the award, and it’s a strong one. The problem for Donald is that he plays defense, and they just don’t give this award to defensive players. Only twice in the history of the award, going all the way back to 1957 has a defensive player won the award. The last time a guy that played on the other side of the ball won football’s top honor? Lawrence Taylor in 1986. And while Aaron Donald is a beast, I am not ready to put him on LT’s level just yet. So, whether or not Donald deserves to be in the conversation for the award or not, and he most certainly does if you ask me, he ain’t winning. But you can go ahead and pencil him for defensive player of the year now.
We have broken down the pros and cons of each of the four remaining NFL MVP candidates, now it comes time to make my pick. Mahomes seems to be the sexy pick at the moment. He had an MVP type moment last week when he threw and completed a no-look pass, and he is set to decimate the NFL record book in his first full season under center. But in what is surely a two-horse race, I am going with Brees.
how is a no look pass even possible pic.twitter.com/gAyFQP8GPG
— Jordan Heck (@JordanHeckFF) 9 December 2018
Mahomes lost one of his biggest weapons when Kareem Hunt got kicked out of the NFL for kicking a female. And the Chiefs have some tough games ahead, where Mahomes could end up struggling, especially now that opposing teams don’t have to stack the box to stop Hunt anymore.
And when you look at Brees, he has some smooth sailing coming up that should close the gap between himself and Mahomes in the raw stat department. If these guys end the season anywhere near the same level of production, Brees wins the award going away. The NFL loves to give lifetime achievement awards when it comes to the MVP, and Bree seems to have earned the nod for a stellar career, regardless if he is the best this season. It’s like when Leo DiCaprio won the best actor Oscar for the Revenant even though it wasn’t his near best acting performance.
Both of these guys are more than worthy of the award, and it has been split twice in the past. Once when Brett Favre and Barry Sanders shared the award in 1997 and again when Peyton Manning and Steve McNair tied in 2003.
But for my money, this award goes to Brees. He is a great man, and in the current NFL climate, that is going to mean a lot. But when all the votes are tallied, I think Brees sneaks past Mahomes in one of the closest votes ever. So, my suggestion for futures betting is to take Drew Brees at +110! Thanks for reading and good luck betting!