NFL MVP, Super Bowl futures watch: Tom Brady to the top

Leave it to Tom Brady to be the one guy who can make a significant move during a bye week. Entering Week 9, the five fellow quarterbacks surrounding him at the top of the MVP betting board either lost or sat out their teams’ games. All that allowed the 44-year-old to become the betting favorite at +350, which I said a week ago was poised to happen in the near future.

MVP options

Recent history suggests this award will go to a quarterback of a one- or two-seed. That’s occurred in 11 of the past 13 seasons, and team success will likely determine votes of this competitive race. So which teams do we think could separate themselves?

In the AFC, Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills seemed like they were riding an express train to the top, once they defeated the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. But now with losses in two of their past three games, the wheels have fallen off. Buffalo is only a half-game ahead of New England in the AFC East.

The Titans currently own the top seed, but Derrick Henry is injured, so they lack a true MVP threat. Following the Week 9 carnage, Lamar Jackson (+900) might be poised to make a move. Of course, we could have anticipated this last week when he was listed at 20-1, but if Baltimore survives its injuries and the competitive AFC North to earn a top-two seed, its star quarterback will be a large reason. He’s already posting superior stats to his 2019 MVP run.

In the NFC, the Bucs are about to face four opponents without a winning record, and Brady should feast. No sugar, of course. Arizona sits atop the conference with an 8-1 mark, and four other NFC teams have two losses. It’s still a considerable logjam and given the upsets we saw last weekend, the race is wide open. Kyler Murray (+550), Matthew Stafford (+700) and Dak Prescott (+1000) are still very much in this thing.

MVP Favorites

Tom Brady +350
Josh Allen +400
Kyler Murray +550
Matthew Stafford +700
Aaron Rodgers +900
Lamar Jackson +900
Dak Prescott +1000
Justin Herbert +1800
Ryan Tannehill +5000
Derek Carr +5000
Patrick Mahomes +6000
Joe Burrow +6000

Super Bowl options

The Bucs and Bills are Super Bowl co-favorites and in my opinion, I see only the six teams listed right below them on the betting board as legitimate contenders. As I’ve said in previous weeks, the Chiefs serve as my de facto demarcation line. Oddsmakers are not offering enough value at 12-1, and any team below them seems like a farfetched option — to a certain extent. In the NFC, New Orleans (40-1) would be my only temptation, given the defense and Sean Payton’s playcalling ability. Even still, that conference is so top heavy and Trevor Siemian is still Trevor Siemian.

The AFC is a much different situation. Every division leader suffers from inconsistency. That leaves long shots like the Chargers (20-1), Browns (30-1), Patriots (40-1) and Raiders (50-1) with plenty of appeal. They certainly can play with anyone, but can they sustain it for four postseason wins? Perhaps the Pats intrigue me the most. I love Bill Belichick and consider him out for blood after Brady’s Super Bowl run, but they still probably don’t have the talent. However, the team seems to improve on a weekly basis, and Belichick can scheme against anyone, as we saw with the close losses to Dallas and Tampa Bay.

I left the Titans (12-1) last on purpose. They never come up in Super Bowl discussions and are routinely dismissed once the playoffs arrive. And that’s when Henry was healthy, but now what happens after losing their best player? Tennessee is doing something right, thanks to four straight wins as an underdog of at least three points. Gee … perhaps we should, maybe, start considering them?

If Henry is going to return at some point, even if just for the playoffs, then I would be on board at 12-1 odds. The Titans have some defensive issues but as Cris Collinsworth mentioned on Sunday night’s broadcast, they play with a collective edge that can’t really be quantified. Head coach Mike Vrabel brings it out, and his players somehow find ways to make plays. But man, that offense looked pedestrian in the second half against the Rams. I worry about the Titans’ ground game without Henry. Then again, they’ve answered nearly every challenge.

Super Bowl futures

Buffalo Bills +600
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +600
Los Angeles Rams +750
Green Bay Packers +1000
Arizona Cardinals +900
Baltimore Ravens +1100
Dallas Cowboys +1200
Kansas City Chiefs +1200
Tennessee Titans +1200
Los Angeles Chargers +2000
Cleveland Browns +3000
New Orleans Saints +4000
New England Patriots +4000

Other awards to watch

  • Kliff Kingsbury (+450) is understandably the new betting favorite for Coach of the Year, given the impressive win in San Francisco without QB Kyler Murray. But Mike Vrabel (+750) feels like the right play. Four of Tennessee’s eight remaining games will come against Houston, Jacksonville and Miami. Arizona still has to deal with the NFC West. Also, John Harbaugh (35-1) coaches a division leader that could wind up with a top-two seed. That’s a silly price and definitely worth a flyer.

  • Cooper Kupp (+120) is a significant betting favorite for Offensive Player of the Year at DraftKings. For context, Kyler Murray is next in line at 14-1. Given Kupp’s injury history and a tough upcoming schedule for L.A., this feels like a soft betting market. Lamar Jackson (25-1) is a very good bet. He’s posting impressive numbers, and stats determine this award. Voting criteria is an “outstanding season,” so now that Henry is injured, no RB or WR seems poised to shatter a record. Jackson’s odds are a strong buy right now.

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