NFL MVP Race Seeing Buffalo QB Josh Allen Far in Front

Posted on: October 12, 2022, 04:16h. 

Last updated on: October 12, 2022, 04:52h.

Josh Allen is such a prohibitive favorite for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award you have to start wondering whether anyone can catch him. But his odds have dropped to +175, which is an astoundingly low number after just five weeks of the NFL season.

Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen (17) on the field, above. Oddsmakers have Allen as the favorite for MVP, but is the award really in the bank? (Image: USA Today)

Less than a month ago, money was pouring in on Tua Tagovailoa of Miami and Lamar Jackson of Baltimore after especially prodigious production weeks.

But Allen went out last Sunday and had 348 of his 424 passing yards in the first half. That’s including a 98-yard TD pass to Gabe Davis on the first play from scrimmage in a 38-3 rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers. And that made all the bettors who laid money on Allen at his opening line of +700 all the merrier in the middle of a three-day weekend.

Their bets look safe at this juncture of the season. But let’s not forget that 12 weeks are remaining, and an injury to Allen or a surge by someone else could change a lot of fortunes.

Who Are The Closest Pursuers?

Patrick Mahomes is second on the board at +400, and he did not hurt his cause by throwing four TD passes to tight end Travis Kelce and amassing 292 passing yards in a come-from-behind 30-29 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night. Mahomes leads the NFL with 15 TD passes and is fourth in passing yardage with 1,398.

But Allen has 14 TD passes and a league-leading 1,651 passing yards for the Buffalo Bills, whose 4-1 record is tied with four other teams — including Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs — for the second-best record in the NFL behind the 5-0 Philadelphia Eagles.

Their quarterback, Jalen Hurts, leads the NFL with 8.6 yards per attempt, but he has only four passing TDs and six rushing TDs, which is not putting him over the top in an MVP race with quarterbacks holding the top 12 spots. Moreover, among the eight players ranked 13th-18th, only wide receiver Justin Jefferson of Minnesota is not a starting quarterback.

The NFL’s leading rusher, Nick Chubb of Cleveland, is on the board at +15000, the same odds as the second-leading rusher, Saquon Barkley of the Giants. Barkley’s fan base in the New York metropolitan region is not wagering large amounts of money that he will become the first non-quarterback since Adrian Peterson of the Vikings a decade ago to become the AP’s Player of the Year, a.k.a the MVP. Over the past 72 hours, BetMGM said the most money was coming in on Tom Brady (28% of tickets, compared to 23.4% for Allen and 18.7% for Mahomes).

“Since the end of Sunday’s games, (NY Giants head coach) Brian Daboll has had 31% of tickets and 52% percent of handle for Coach of the Year, the most for any coach,” Bet MGM spokesman Drew O’Dell said. “Saquon Barkley has had one percent of tickets for MVP. and the 12th-most handle for MVP.”

Quarterbacks have won 15 of the last 16 awards. The last player who was neither a running back nor a QB to earn the award was Lawrence Taylor of the Giants in 1986, making him only the second defensive player to win (defensive lineman Alan Page of Minnesota won it in 1971, and kicker Mark Moseley of Washington won in 1982).

Is Allen Offensive Player Of The Year, Too? No.

Cooper Kupp of the Rams, Jefferson, Hurts, and Jackson are all +600 for Offensive Player of the Year, while Allen is eighth at +1600 — higher odds than those of his favorite receiver, Diggs, who is +1200 — the same odds as Barkley of the 4-1 Giants.

Barkley is -200 for Comeback Player of the Year, the most prohibitive favorite in any category, and Daboll is the +600 second choice behind the Eagles’ Nick Sirianni for Coach of the Year. The even money favorite for Defensive Player of the Year is Dallas linebacker Micah Parsons, who is tied with three other players for the league lead in sacks with six.

Curiously, Parsons ranks 215th in tackles with 19, meaning nearly one-third of his tackles of been sacks. The league leaders in tackles are Jordyn Brooks of Seattle, Zaire Franklin of Indianapolis, and Roquan Smith of Chicago, and the lowest odds from that threesome belong to Smith at +15000. So that is a topic for a future column.

But back to Most Valuable Player, because Allen has been tearing it up for the Bills, the only NFL team that plays in New York, where sports gambling has only been legal since January. There is only anecdotal evidence that players from states where gambling is legal can skew the odds, but this is a subject that will be studied in the sports gambling industry for the next several years — especially with heavily populated states, including California and Texas, not yet having legalized sports gambling.

California has two sports gambling referendums on the ballot this November, both of which pollsters predict to fail.

Let’s look Beneath Allen

Mahomes (+400): If this were a popularity contest, Mahomes would be the favorite. He is beloved in Kansas City, a larger market than Buffalo, he has played in two of the last three Super Bowls, and he endorses EA Sports, Head & Shoulders shampoo, State Farm Insurance, and Oakley sunglasses, among others. For him to win, his Chiefs will need to defeat the Bills, for starters, when the teams meet next Sunday in the showcase late-afternoon game on CBS. And he also will likely have to stay among the top five in passing yardage, which is no easy thing since just 199 yards separate the players ranked 2nd through 13th.

Jackson (+500): Ranking ninth in the league in rushing yards out of the QB position is no small accomplishment. Jackson’s 12 TD passes among just 95 completions is a heck of a ratio unmatched by anyone else. But the Ravens are 3-2 in the weak AFC North and are not a sexy team. They will need to defeat a string of good teams, something they can begin doing this week if they get past the Giants, for Jackson to replicate his 2019 accomplishment. Two games later they face Tom Brady and the Bucs, which will be Jackson’s biggest showcase game of the season. He has already played Buffalo (a 23-20 loss) and will not play Kansas City of Philadelphia.

Hurts (+600): An undefeated record at the end of the season might be what it takes, given his relative lack of experience compared to some of the better-known QBs around the league, and his league-leading 8.5 yards per completion is not going to hinder him. But this award is often a popularity contest (Aaron Rodgers has won it four times, and Peyton Manning won it five times), and Hurts does not have huge national recognition quite yet. A lopsided loss would likely drop his odds significantly.

Justin Herbert (+1600): The odds start to get quite long, beginning with this guy, QB of the 3-2 Los Angeles Chargers. They are lucky to not be 2-3 after their coach made an ill-advised 4th down conversion attempt last Sunday that failed late in their 30-28 win over Cleveland. He trails Allen by 173 yards for most passing yardage, and it will take several monster games for anyone to catch Allen, barring injury.

Tom Brady (+3000): Look, the Bucs are 3-2 atop the NFC South; this 45-year-old is third in the NFL in passing yardage, and has thrown only one interception in 207 attempts. For a guy as popular as he is (outside of the Bündchen side of the family), who has won the award three times, he could make it a fourth if the Bucs can string together a half-dozen or more consecutive wins.

“Popular choices in the last few days have been Micah Parsons, and Tom Brady,” Fan Duel spokesman Kevin Hennessy said. “Our largest liability is on Lamar Jackson, who has 11% of tickets and 14% of handle.”


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