The most outstanding player each season in the National Football League earns the title of NFL MVP, an award that seems easy to predict but isn’t so simple in practice. Unsurprisingly, quarterback candidates top the list for the 2018 NFL MVP odds, as they do every year.
The betting favorite as 2018 NFL training camps open is Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. However, veterans such as Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints are also in the running
It’s important to not overlook a few of the talented youngsters coming off injury, DeShaun Watson of the Houston Texans and Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles, or previous winners like Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers or Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons when making your 2018 NFL MVP picks.
Explaining the NFL MVP Award
The NFL MVP award has existed in one form or another since 1938, when the NFL awarded outstanding players The Gruen Trophy. The league renamed the award the Joe F. Carr Trophy the following year, in honor of commissioner Joseph Carr. The Carr Trophy was last awarded in 1946. Since then, several organizations have given out versions of the NFL MVP award.
These days, the term NFL MVP applies to awards handed out by three different organizations: the Associated Press, the Sporting News and the Pro Football Writers Association. The NFL — and crucially, most betting odds — consider the Associated Press award, which has been awarded since 1957, to be the de facto modern MVP award.
NFL MVP Award History
Mel Hein, a center and linebacker for the New York Giants, won the first two Carr Trophies. In the early days, it was common for an end such as Don Hutson of the Green Bay Packers (1941-1942) or Harlon Hill of the Chicago Bears (1955) to win NFL MVP.
But as the league grew into the Super Bowl era, the NFL MVP changed. It grew into an award for quarterbacks and running backs (just as the Heisman Trophy did in college football). Of the 63 times the AP has awarded its NFL MVP trophy (including two years with co-winners), 60 have been quarterbacks or running backs.
The three exceptions all came more than 30 years ago. Defensive tackle Alan Page of the Minnesota Vikings’ Purple People Eaters defense won it in 1971, kicker Mark Moseley of the Washington Redskins in 1982 and linebacker Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants in 1986.
Recent NFL MVP Winners
In 2005 and 2006, running backs Shaun Alexander of the Seattle Seahawks and LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers won back to back NFL MVP awards. But increasingly, quarterbacks have had a monopoly on NFL MVP.
Signal-callers have won 10 of the past 11 awards, with only Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in 2012 the exception. But that season Peterson ran for more than 2,000 yards and broke the NFL’s single-season record for rushing touchdowns.
The list of quarterbacks includes multiple winners Peyton Manning, who won five NFL MVP awards for the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos; Brady, a three-time winner for the Patriots; and this year’s betting odds favorite, Rodgers, who has two for the Packers.
Besides future Hall of Famers Brady and Rodgers, not many active players have an NFL MVP in their trophy case. Peterson is technically active, but a team hasn’t yet signed him for the 2018 season. That leaves only Newton, the 2015 winner, and Ryan in 2016 as the other active players with an NFL MVP.
Even if we expand the conversation beyond the AP award, only those four active, signed players are NFL MVP winners: Brady, Rodgers, Newton and Ryan.
Understanding NFL MVP Betting Odds
Odds are listed with a number following a “plus” sign, meaning that any bet will return more money than the initial wager. The number signifies how many dollars a bettor would make if he wagered $100 (in addition to the original $100).
For example, a $100 bet on Aaron Rodgers at +550 would return a total of $650 if he was the 2018 NFL MVP winner — the original $100 plus $550. A $100 bet on a longshot like Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (+5000) would return $5,100 if it won.
Picking the next NFL MVP Winner
Aaron Rodgers is the favorite to win the NFL MVP for the third time in his career, and the 34-year-old Green Bay quarterback is currently a +450 betting favorite. Tom Brady, fresh off of his third MVP season — at age 40, by the way — is just behind Rodgers at +500.
The 12 players with the best odds to win MVP are all quarterbacks. Ten of the last 11 MVPs have been quarterbacks, while Adrian Peterson is the lone running back to win the award in the last decade.
Carson Wentz is +725 to win MVP despite not starting the first week of the season. It’s unclear when Wentz will return to the field after tearing his ACL late in 2017. Matt Ryan and Cam Newton won the MVP in back-to-back seasons, and there is some value in betting on both of those quarterbacks at +1900 and +2000.
The first non-quarterback listed is Rams running back Todd Gurley at +2200. Le’Veon Bell is behind him at +3000. Antonio Brown is the first receiver listed at +4500. No receiver has ever won MVP.
The last defensive player to win MVP was Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986. If bettors think this is the year for a defensive player to win the award, Von Miller is available at +10000.
Cam Newton and Philip Rivers, at +2000, are both intriguing candidates. They are both expected to be on winning teams, and if they can lead their teams to a top seed in the conference, they will be in the mix for MVP.
NFL MVP Betting Odds
Drew Brees -210
Patrick Mahomes +200
Jared Goff +1,600
Todd Gurley +1,800
Andrew Luck +2,000
Tom Brady +4,000
Philip Rivers +5,000
Alvin Kamara +5,000
Ben Roethlisberger +6,600
Aaron Rodgers +7,500
Kirk Cousins +7,500
Carson Wentz +10,000
Cam Newton +10,000
Deshaun Watson +10,000