2021 NFL MVP Odds & Betting Tips for the MVP Candidates

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Had you bet on the NFL MVP winner before the start of the season in five of the last six years, you were a happy gambler at the end of the season. Why? Because in those seasons, the eventual NFL MVP was a longshot as the season got underway. So, you would not have needed to risk much for a nice payday.

Aaron Rodgers had +3000 odds prior to the start of the 2020 season (ninth-best). Lamar Jackson’s were a bit higher in 2019 (+4000; 14th best). Confidence was high on Patrick Mahomes heading into 2018, but his odds were just +3525 (20th). Matt Ryan was not part of the conversion during the preseason in 2016 (+7500; 19th best).

Cam Newton was a bit of a surprise in 2015 (+5200; 15th best) a year after the Panthers had the dubious distinction of winning the division with a losing record (7-8-1).

Tom Brady is one of three preseason favorites to win MVP (2017; +385). But had Carson Wentz not gone down with an injury late in the year, he would have won. His preseason odds were +9000 (24th best).

From 2009 to 2014, voters tended to favor one of the preseason favorites. Five of the six winners in that span had odds in the top five prior to Week One. Adrian Peterson was the odd man out in 2012 (+4000; 22nd best), but it was hard to deny him after he joined the 2000+ yards club.

So—who should you target in 2021? The NFL betting odds at most sportsbooks have 70+ players listed as potential winners.

Odds For NFL MVP-- 2021/22PointsBetDraftKingsWilliam Hill
Patrick Mahomes+450+400+475
Aaron Rodgers+900+1000+800
Josh Allen (BUF)+1300+1000+1200
Tom Brady+1300+1200+1400
Dak Prescott+1600+1700+1800
Lamar Jackson+1600+1600+1400
Matthew Stafford+1800+1600+1800
Russell Wilson+1800+1600+2000
Justin Herbert+2200+2000+2000
Kyler Murray+2200+2000+1800
Baker Mayfield+3000+3300+3500
Ryan Tannehill+3000+3000+3000
Carson Wentz+4000+4000+3500
Matt Ryan+4000+5000+3500
Derek Carr+5000+7000+5000
Derrick Henry+5000+5000+3000
Deshaun Watson+5000+5000+5000
Jalen Hurts+5000+6000+6000
Joe Burrow+5000+5000+5000
Kirk Cousins+5000+5000+6000
Jameis Winston+6000+5000+6000
Tua Tagovailoa+6000+6600+6000
Christian McCaffrey+6600+5000+4000
Cam Newton+7500+6600+8000
Dalvin Cook+7500+6600+6000
Ben Roethlisberger+8000+10000+8000
Cam Akers+9000+15000+10000
Daniel Jones+9000+10000+10000
Ezekiel Elliott+9000+15000+10000
Nick Chubb+9000+10000+10000
Saquon Barkley+9000+10000+8000
Taysom Hill+9000+10000+12500
Trevor Lawrence+9000+8000+8000
Alvin Kamara+10000+10000+10000
DeAndre Hopkins+10000+15000+10000
Drew Lock+10000+15000+8000
Jimmy Garoppolo+10000+8000+12500
Julio Jones+10000+15000+15000
Justin Fields+10000+10000+12500
Michael Thomas (NO)+10000+15000+8000
Sam Darnold+10000+10000+10000
Davante Adams+12500+15000+8000
Jared Goff+12500+12500+8000
Aaron Jones+15000+15000+15000
Allen Robinson+15000+15000+15000
Calvin Ridley+15000+15000+15000
Clyde Edwards-Helaire+15000+50000+25000
D.K. Metcalf+15000+20000+10000
George Kittle+15000+12500+8000
James Robinson+15000+20000
Jonathan Taylor+15000+12500+15000
Justin Jefferson+15000+20000+15000
Mike Evans+15000+20000+15000
Ryan Fitzpatrick+15000+10000
Stefon Diggs+15000+15000+15000
Teddy Bridgewater+15000+15000+15000
Travis Kelce+15000+15000+1000
Trey Lance+15000+10000
Tyreek Hill+15000+15000+15000
Zach Wilson+15000+15000
Austin Ekeler+20000+25000+25000
Cooper Kupp+20000+25000+20000
David Montgomery+20000+50000
Joe Mixon+20000+20000+15000
Josh Jacobs+20000+25000+15000
Keenan Allen+20000+25000+25000
Leonard Fournette+20000+25000
Mac Jones+20000+20000
Melvin Gordon+20000+50000+25000
Miles Sanders+20000+25000
Mitchell Trubisky+20000+20000
Odell Beckham Jr.+20000+20000+15000

There must be a way to narrow the list down…

Common Traits Of Previous NFL MVP Winners

There are actually quite a few commonalities among the latest winners. Most of them will come as no surprise, but the trick is trying to figure out how to analyze them to help pick future winners:

  • Seventeen of the last 20 have been quarterbacks, including the last eight in a row; the last running back was Adrian Peterson back in 2012 when he ran for 2097 yards.
  • Nine of the last 12 were on the No. 1 seed in their respective conference; two of the other three were two seeds.
  • Adrian Peterson’s 2012 Vikings were the only team not to win their division; they were the No. 6 seed in the NFC that year.
  • Nine of the last 12 were part of the No. 1 scoring offense in the league for their year; Brady’s Patriots were No. 2 in ’17, Peterson’s Vikings were No. 14 in ’12, and Manning’s Colts ranked No. 7 in 2009.
  • Patrick Mahomes (’18) and Lamar Jackson (’17) were the only winners that were not established veterans; both were in their sophomore season and first full season as the starter.
  • The last four were division winners with 10+ wins the year before winning the MVP.
  • Only two winners (Matt Ryan in ’16 and Adrian Peterson in ’12) were on teams that failed to make the playoffs the season before.
  • Cam Newton (’15) and Adrian Peterson (’12) were the only winners whose team had a losing record the year before.
  • Eight of the last 12 (including the last four) were division winners the year before winning MVP.
  • Five of the 12 had a top ten defense; four ranked No. 11-19; three ranked No. 20 or higher.

What does this tell us? It tells us that the winner will likely be the quarterback from a team that made the playoffs the year before. He will be part of a high-powered offense that scores a lot of points, so there must be other talented players on the roster.  His team will not necessarily have a good defense; no defensive player has ever won.

Oh—and he will more than likely be an established veteran player.

NFL MVP Sports Betting Recommendation

His team will be one of the best in the league, but that is not exactly news. The NFL is notorious for usually going with the quarterback of the team with the most wins. But if we factor in everything we know about the last 12 MVPs, we can narrow the list down to these guys:

Odds For NFL MVP-- 2021/22PointsBetDraftKingsWilliam Hill
Patrick Mahomes+450+400+475
Aaron Rodgers+900+1000+800
Josh Allen (BUF)+1300+1000+1200
Russell Wilson+1800+1600+2000
Ryan Tannehill+3000+3000+3000

The Saints were a division winner and one of the higher scoring teams in the NFL last season. But with a new quarterback at the helm, it is probably safe to factor them out. There has not been a repeat winner since Peyton Manning back in 2008 and ’09, so scratch Aaron Rodgers off the list.

But if he gets traded to a team like the Broncos, add him back in.

Patrick Mahomes will be in the conversation as the leader of the most explosive offense in the NFL. But the preseason favorite has only won three of the last 12 (pass on him, too).

That leaves Josh Allen, Ryan Tannehill, and Russell Wilson. There are other good candidates (Dak Prescott, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, and Carson Wentz).

But with what we know about the last 12 MVPs, Allen, Tannehill, and Wilson are the best choices.

So—How Should You Bet?

Putting a little on all three would not be a bad idea. But if you want to go with just one, take Ryan Tannehill. With the addition of Julio Jones to the lineup, the Titans have two top-ten wide receivers and a top-ten tight end (according to PFF) for Tannehill to work with.

With weapons like that in the passing game, it would not be shocking if the Titans were to take a little pressure off Derrick Henry (to preserve him for the postseason) by throwing more. If they do, and it works, the Titans could be one of the best in the AFC. They will certainly win their division, have one of the higher scoring offenses in the league, and will likely be one of the top seeds in the conference.

While he will have not done it alone, Ryan Tannehill will get the credit and be named MVP.

About the Author

Travis Pulver

Travis Pulver is a lifelong football fan, something he says comes naturally having been born in the football-crazy state of Texas. Through the years, his love of sports has extended into baseball, basketball, golf, and rugby. Life currently finds him in Indiana with his wife and two kids.

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