NFL betting tips: How to pick an MVP winner
Examining the last 30 years of the NFL reveals which player is primed to be named the league's Most Valuable Player.
Patrick Mahomes was named the 2018 NFL MVP after a stunning campaign in which he threw for 50 touchdowns and over 5000 yards.
The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback is again the favourite in the NFL betting to win the 2019 award, but looking at the trends from the last 30 years suggest he isn’t the best bet this time around.
It’s incredibly difficult to win back-to-back NFL MVPs. Peyton Manning (2003-04 and 2008-09) is the only player to do so since Brett Favre won three in a row from 1995 to 1997.
Both Manning and Favre were future hall-of-famers in their prime, while Mahomes is entering just his third year in the league.
One of the reasons that Mahomes’ season was so impressive was his lack of experience, having only previously started one NFL game in his 2017 rookie season.
All 17 MVPs from 2001 to 2017 had played in the NFL for at least four seasons, and Mahomes was also the first player under the age of 26 to win the award since Terrell Davis in 1998.
The 23-year-old cannot be ruled out for this year’s award, but history is against him. His 2018 triumph was so unprecedented that it’s probably worth looking elsewhere.
Picking a quarterback is certainly the way to go, though, as the position has dominated the MVP award since the early 2000s.
Just one of the last 12 NFL MVPs was not a quarterback – running back Adrian Peterson, who won the award while playing for the Minnesota Vikings in 2012.
Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards in that season – the second-highest mark in NFL history – and it’s unlikely that any running back reaches a figure anywhere close to that this year given the focus on passing in today’s NFL.
So don’t bother with a speculative bet on players like Saquon Barkley or Alvin Kamara. Stick with quarterbacks – specifically the ones that run the league’s most potent offenses.
Of the 12 to have been named MVP since 2004, 11 passed for at least 32 touchdowns. Eleven of the last 12 also threw for over 4,000 yards.
It makes sense to look at passers capable of putting up similar numbers in a team that plays to their strengths by throwing the football often.
That means Kirk Cousins – who has never passed for more than 30 touchdowns in a season and plays in a Vikings offense that will likely focus on running the ball heavily this year – can be ruled out.
Team success is hugely important when it comes to picking an MVP, with 15 of the last 17 winners having finished with a regular-season record of 12-4 or better.
While it’s impossible to know how well a team will perform in the upcoming season, making the playoffs in the previous campaign is a good indicator.
Of the past 30 NFL MVPs, 25 were coming off a playoff season, so this year any player that failed to reach the 2018 postseason can be ruled out.
That means taking Aaron Rodgers, Baker Mayfield and Matt Ryan out of consideration.
The panel of sports writers that vote on the award have tended to stay away from perennial contenders in recent years.
They have instead favoured teams breaking through into title contention, as seven of the last nine MVPs were coming off a season in which they won fewer than 11 games.
For that reason, it’s worth swerving Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Jared Goff, all of whom finished 11-5 or better last season.
Brady and Brees also aren’t helped by the fact that just one MVP in the last 30 years was over the age of 37, although that was Brady himself in 2017.
These criteria, then, provide us with an ideal profile of an NFL MVP:
Aged 26 to 37
Spent at least four seasons in the NFL
Likely to throw at least 32 passing touchdowns
Made the playoffs in 2018 but won fewer than 11 games
Only one player fits the bill: Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
The 30-year-old is entering his eighth season in the league and leads a Seattle team that could be good enough to get him into contention for the award.
The Seahawks made the playoffs last year after finishing the regular season with a 10-6 record and have a talented roster capable of contending.
While coach Pete Carroll likes to run the ball, Wilson did pass for 35 touchdowns last season and has gone over 4,000 yards twice in his career.
Wilson led the Seahawks to the title in 2013, and he looks a fine bet at to guide them to at least 12 wins and claim his first MVP this season.