Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire
is playingThe 2021 NFL season is only a couple of weeks old, and things are already getting interesting. New contenders appear to be rising, and some of the usual suspects look like they are struggling. That also means that the MVP race has seen some new contenders rise and some perennial ones fall.
Patrick Mahomes began the season as the favorite, and many sportsbooks still have him listed accordingly. But since the Chiefs are 1-1 and have not looked the best, he is no longer the favorite at every sportsbook:
|NFL Regular Season MVP for 2021-22 Season||Caesars||PointsBet||BetMGM|
Players with longer odds can be found at sportsbooks if you like longshots. But with the season not even a month old, it is too early to call the race. Struggling contenders could right the ship and rise just as easily as the new contenders could fall from grace. What does that mean for bettors?
There is value to be had if you hitch your wagon to the right horse.
NFL MVP Contenders On The Rise
When it comes to finding value in NFL MVP bets, the best place to find it is with contenders on the rise. You find the guys with relatively longer odds that are playing well. With the hope that they continue to play as well as they have, you put your money down before their odds get shorter.
Take Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Little was expected of the Raiders or Carr entering the season. That is why his MVP odds at many sportsbooks were north of +6000. But with Carr throwing for over 800 yards in the first two games (both wins), he has thrust his name into the MVP conversation.
If he can continue to produce and the Raiders continue to win—he will be the MVP this season. But he could be in for a real challenge from Kyler Murray.
The Cardinals quarterback has been one of the most dynamic players in the league since Arizona drafted him in 2019. Watching him dazzle as he has through the first two weeks of the season is nothing new. Anyone that throws for 689 yards and seven touchdowns while also recording two more on the ground should be a contender.
But with Murray, the question is whether he can remain healthy and continue to produce.
Tom Brady is a perennial contender and was probably undervalued coming into the season. But after getting the Buccaneers and their offense off to a roaring start, his odds are where they should have started the season at. But Brady was not the only guy undervalued. Matthew Stafford made the Rams Super Bowl contenders when they acquired him. But his opening odds had him on the outskirts of the NFL MVP conversation.
His odds are now at where they should have started. But if he and the Rams beat Brady and the Bucs in Week Three, he may become the new favorite.
It is, of course, way too early to rule anyone out. But with how the season has gone, some guys do not look like great bets anymore. Others, however, still do—like Patrick Mahomes.
The Chiefs quarterback is playing as well as an NFL MVP frontrunner should. But the Chiefs have already lost a game. While the loss was not necessarily his fault, quarterbacks get more blame than they deserve. They usually also get too much credit, so it balances out.
Josh Allen exploded onto the scene last year. But so far, the Bills quarterback has struggled to get the Buffalo passing game on track in 2021. If he does in the weeks to come, he could begin to look like a great candidate again. But for now, there are better bets.
Aaron Rodgers has not been his usual brilliant self, but if anyone will turn their season around, it’s him. Russell Wilson has played well. But he tends to start the season strong and then fade in the latter half of the year. Dak Prescott and Justin Herbert have played well enough to be in the conversation. But time will tell if they deserve to remain in the conversation.
However, there is one player that is still being grossly undervalued—Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
It was easy to forget about him with all of the injuries the Ravens backfield has had. But Jackson is playing lights out, so far, getting the job done with his arm and legs. The loss to the Raiders in the season opener did not look great. But the win over the Chiefs last week should have solidified his status as one of the frontrunners.
How you should approach betting on the regular-season NFL MVP depends on your perspective. If you like to play it safe, then go with Mahomes. With his ability to produce and the weapons at his disposal, the Chiefs will win games. As usual, his stats will be gaudy. However, some other guys may deserve more consideration.
With how Brady and the Bucs are playing, it would not be shocking to see him win another. But if you are looking for value, look no further than Derek Carr and Lamar Jackson. Both are playing great football. They will be in the conversation at the end of the season if they can continue. But their odds will be much, much shorter.
Could they flop? Absolutely. But a small wager placed on them now could result in a sizable payoff later if they do not.