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Mahomes leads two-man MVP chase

By Jason Weingarten  (VSiN.com) 

NFL MVP

DraftKings

Mahomes -500

Rodgers + 400

Allen + 1,400

Wilson + 2,000

FanDuel

Mahomes -500

Rodgers + 450

Allen + 1,700

Wilson + 2,000

Circa

Mahomes -325

Rodgers + 365

Allen + 1,800

Wilson + 2,000

The field has narrowed to Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, with Mahomes holding the advantage in wins (11 to 9), passing yards (3,815 to 3,395) and interceptions (2 to 4) while Rodgers leads in touchdown passes (36 to 31). Rodgers is having another elite season and deserves consideration, but it’s hard to see what else Mahomes could do to improve his case. With similar stats I’m inclined to lean toward the quarterback on the team with the better record, and I would be surprised if the Packers catch the Chiefs in the standings. The -500 line implies an 83.3% chance Mahomes will win the MVP. I’d make it -300, which translates to 75%. Circa opened Mahomes -325, so it’s nice to see it is closer to my number on Mahomes. 

Offensive Rookie of the Year

FanDuel

Herbert -450

Jefferson + 450

Tagovailoa + 1,500

Claypool + 2,600

Robinson + 3,200

This is another race that has narrowed to two main contenders. As of Wednesday morning, the only book that had odds up was FanDuel. Betonline put up odd, but they are gimmick PR odds with a $100 limit, so I don’t take them very seriously. 

Justin Jefferson has gained ground on Justin Herbert and is now Herbert’s main competition. Herbert is still the favorite, even after the worst start of his career last weekend. The Chargers were outplayed and outcoached in an embarrassing 45-0 home loss to the Patriots. It was not incredibly surprising to see Herbert struggle against a well-coached Patriots defense, and it definitely wasn’t Herbert’s fault that the Chargers’ special teams lost over 20 expected points, possibly the worst special-teams performance in NFL history by any available metric. 

Herbert still has 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 11 starts, and he will break or nearly match all of Andrew Luck’s rookie quarterback numbers. For context, in Luck’s rookie season, he started all 16 games and threw for 4,374 yards with 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Herbert has already matched the touchdown number and with 3,224 yards through 11 starts (293.1 per game), he will come very close to breaking Luck’s record. That’s going to be something to watch in the second half of the Chargers’ Week 17 game vs. the Chiefs. 

The problem Herbert has is not his own performance but the Chargers’ team performance. Herbert has two wins as a starter, and they came against the Jaguars and the Jets. The Chargers’ last two losses were by 10 and 45 points to better Bills and Patriots teams. Losses to the Chiefs, Panthers, Bucs, Saints, Broncos and Raiders by three, five, seven, three, one and five points are impressive but not good enough. Herbert will need to win two of his final four starts against the Falcons, Raiders, Broncos and Chiefs to seal the award, but he is facing major competition from Jefferson.

Jefferson had nine receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown Sunday against the Jaguars, bringing his season totals to 61 receptions for 1,039 yards and seven touchdowns. The Vikings receiver is the fifth rookie to reach 1,000 yards in his first 12 NFL games. The other four are Odell Beckham, Anquan Boldin, Marques Colston and Randy Moss. All four won Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

If the Vikings hold on to the seventh seed in the NFC, I could see Jefferson beating Herbert. Unfortunately, I waited too long to pull the trigger on Jefferson and missed out on betting him last week when I still could have gotten 14-1 or 11-1, and I’m not overly excited to bet more money at lower odds this week. So I am going to wait and see how the Vikings do at Tampa Bay this weekend and see if Herbert rebounds against the Falcons. I’ll wait another week to consider hedging Herbert. I am also going to wait for Circa to post so I can compare its numbers to FanDuel’s.

Defensive Player of the Year

DraftKings

Watt + 180

Donald + 200

Garrett + 350

FanDuel

Donald + 200

Watt + 200

Garrett + 400

I have bets on Myles Garrett and Aaron Donald already, which means T.J. Watt is probably going to win. Donald gets a Thursday night prime-time game against the Patriots this week to solidify his case. Donald has 11 sacks and Watt has 12. I’m not sure how much advanced stats play into the voting. I’d vote Donald over Watt because linebackers are replaceable in the Steelers defense. But if you take Donald out of the Rams defense, they aren’t a playoff team. 

Coach of the Year

We have no numbers to compare this week, but with the Steelers losing to Washington, I’d be surprised if Mike Tomlin is still the favorite. The Dolphins’ Brian Flores should probably be favored now, and the Browns’ Kevin Stefanski deserves consideration. I’d say the focus is on Flores and Stefanski, but I’d like someone to post odds for comparison. 

Comeback Player of the Year 

Last week I said I would contact FanDuel and find out the most I could bet on Alex Smith to win at -650. I got in contact with FanDuel and, after a day or two of exchanging messages, it said it would take a maximum win bet of $5,000 on the Comeback Player of the Year market. Then it moved the number to -900.

I liked the idea of earning over 10% on my money for giving FanDuel $32,500 to hold until the Super Bowl (NFL awards are announced the night before the Super Bowl), but it didn’t work out logistically, which is unfortunate. 

After leading Washington past the Steelers, Smith should be -99,999 to win. 

Division Futures

DraftKings

NFC East

Giants -143

Washington + 140

Eagles + 1,400

Cowboys + 4,000

FanDuel 

NFC East

Giants -145

Washington + 165

Eagles + 1,400

Cowboys + 1,600

Circa

NFC East

Giants -120

Washington + 130

Eagles + 1,800

Cowboys + 3,500

I wanted to highlight the NFC East to show you the ability to bet at multiple books is essential in getting the best futures numbers. If you like the Giants, you can bet them at Circa -120, while Washington bettors can find the best deal at + 165 at FanDuel. 

I think Washington is a better team than the Giants, and this week I bet $500 on Washington to win the NFC East. With four weeks left in the regular season, Washington travels to Arizona to face the 49ers followed by home games against the Seahawks and Panthers and a Week 17 road game against the Eagles, perhaps starting Jalen Hurts. Meanwhile, the Giants play the Cardinals and Browns at home, then travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens before facing the Cowboys at home in Week 17. 

There are no easy games in the NFL, especially not in December with playoff spots and coaching jobs on the line, and I was tempted for a minute to bet the Cowboys to win the division at 40-1. But I’ve lost enough money on Cowboys futures already, plus the Cowboys would likely need to finish 4-0 to win the division. And if I wanted to bet on that, I’d bet the Cowboys’ moneyline against the Bengals this weekend in a four-team parlay with three open spots and roll over the Cowboys’ moneylines until Week 17. 

Recap

$500 to win $825 on Washington to win the NFC East.

I currently have $7,975 in NFL futures.

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