by Alan Matthews of Doc Sports for VegasTopDogs.com – 8/8/2011
We continue our look at some NFL player props with the biggest regular-season award of them all: the league’s Most Valuable Player. We will offer some predictions for the NFL MVP along with futures odds for 2011.
And in essence, the MVP has become the NFL’s version of the Heisman Trophy. By that I mean the MVP is only going to go to a quarterback or running back on one of the sport’s best teams. Since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, the MVP award has gone to a player other than a quarterback or running back just three times: Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page in 1971, Redskins kicker Mark Moseley in 1982 (still the most baffling MVP decision possibly in sports history) and Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986. Since the turn of the century, a quarterback has won the award in all but three seasons and has taken the past four: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning twice each.
The Bodog favorite for this season is Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers at 11/2. He has never won the regular-season MVP, but he did take home the Super Bowl MVP last season. It’s hard to argue against Rodgers considering the Packers should be loaded on offense this season with running back Ryan Grant and tight end Jermichael Finley back from injury. Rodgers actually ranked only seventh in the NFL last season in passing yards with 3,922 (he did miss almost two games) and sixth in touchdown passes with 28. He has never finished higher than fourth in single-season passing yards, touchdown passes or completion percentage. Plus, that Packer offensive line tends to give up sacks and another concussion could mean several games on the sideline for Rodgers after reportedly suffering two last year. I actually think the Packers are too well-balanced for Rodgers to be good value.
Brady, who was the NFL’s first-ever unanimous MVP last season, is next at 13/2. Brady was brilliant last year as he had a record streak of 335 throws without being intercepted and passed for 36 touchdowns with only four picks. That’s the highest TD-to-interception ratio (9.0) in NFL history. But Brady would have to almost be better this year to win it again – and does anyone really think the Pats can improve on last season’s 14-2 record?
Manning, the only four-time winner of the award, is next at 15/2. I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole because Manning is coming off a second neck surgery. The guy is unbelievably durable, not having missed a start in his career, but I just think that day is coming. Plus, the Colts can’t run the ball.
Here are three guys I like in terms of best value:
Matt Ryan, Falcons QB (18/1): Supposedly the Falcons are going to throw deep a lot more this season with the big draft-day trade in getting former Alabama receiver Julio Jones. That should mean bigger numbers for Ryan. Throwing deep has been one flaw in Ryan’s arsenal, although it’s not really all his fault. On passes thrown of 41 yards or more last season, Ryan completed 1-of-5 passes (20 percent) for 45 yards and only one touchdown. Star WR Roddy White, who led the league with 115 catches last season, is ready to go deep more often. He had a career-low 12.1 yards per catch average last season. Obviously defenses can’t double team White, Jones and TE Tony Gonzalez.
Tony Romo, Cowboys QB (20/1): No team was more of a flop last year than the Cowboys, and 2010 essentially ended when Romo went down in Dallas’ sixth game with a broken collarbone. Now that Jason Garrett is the full-time coach, I can see the Cowboys getting even more pass-happy (plus RB Marion Barber is gone). Romo has averaged 4,347 yards through the air in his two full seasons as the Cowboys’ starter and was on pace to finish with better than 5,000 yards based on the numbers in his five games in 2010. The 2011 Dallas Cowboys schedule is also one of the easiest in the league this season. They will bounce back in a big way and there’s no more famous position than QB for the Cowboys. Let’s not kid ourselves: the MVP is just a popularity contest.
Matthew Stafford, Lions QB (40/1): I have to admit I downgraded Stafford slightly with the season-ending injury Monday to Lions rookie RB Mikel Leshoure, who was projected to be a nice complement to starter Jahvid Best and would have been one more weapon on offense. Betting on Stafford is all about having faith in him staying healthy. He’s now played in 13 of a possible 32 games in his first two pro seasons, including only three last year because of a shoulder injury that required surgery. But in the two full games he did play in 2010, he had six TD passes and just one pick. If Stafford can stay healthy, the Lions should have one of the NFL’s best offenses. And if Detroit somehow becomes a playoff team, which is very possible, then Stafford will get all the credit.