With just a few weeks left in the regular season, the playoff races aren't the only ones to follow. Jason Weingarten updates the NFL MVP chase and also the Coach of the Year market.
Odds from DraftKings
Rodgers + 125
Brady + 200
Taylor + 750
Stafford + 1000
Mahomes + 1200
Allen + 1800
Kupp + 3500
Tom Brady was shut out for only the third time in his career on Sunday night against the Saints. People will make excuses for Brady whenever he loses a game and against the Saints, the excuse is that he was playing with backups most of the game after Godwin, Evans and Fournette exited the game early with various injuries. But, those are just excuses. Great players win with what they are given, and on Sunday night Brady couldn’t win. He couldn’t do much of anything with the players he was given. And, we might have just seen his MVP chances slip away. The Bucs finish the season with two games against the Panthers, and the Jets in between, and I’m not sure three weeks of beating up on bad teams is going to win Brady back the MVP against a contested field. Although, he is Tom Brady so he might just win it anyways, you can never really rule that out.
Aaron Rodgers has overtaken Brady as the favorite at most books, with a few exceptions where they are listed as co-favorites. Rodgers is putting up an MVP-level season, excluding a Week 1 loss against the same Saints team that beat Brady twice. Losing to the Saints shouldn’t disqualify Brady or Rodgers from winning MVP, but their struggles against a borderline playoff team should be noted. I also think some voters are going to hold Rodgers’ COVID stuff against him when it comes to voting and that might help Brady the most. If the MVP is just the award for the best quarterback in 2021 Rodgers might win, but I’m not convinced he’s going to be voted the MVP.
I’m not sure what to do with Jonthan Taylor at + 750, but I do know that’s way too short to bet for a running back to win MVP. Taylor’s numbers (1,518 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns, 19 total) are great, and he definitely deserves consideration with Cooper Kupp for Offensive Player of the Year, but MVP? I’m not sure those numbers are impressive enough, especially when you consider running back production is a function of the offensive line. But, Taylor is also closing in 2,000 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns, in a year where the quarterback play around the NFL has not led to a runaway MVP leader. It's hard not to give Taylor consideration with his current numbers. If voters are going to be swayed to vote for a non-quarterback MVP, Taylor is a legitimate contender, but you’ve missed your chance to bet him at big odds. He was over 100/1 a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t recommend betting him now at + 750.
Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Donald are examples of guys that play at such a high level all the time that we take them for granted. The Chiefs have won seven straight games and Mahomes’ MVP odds haven’t moved very much and are still in double digits. The Chiefs have the Steelers, followed by back-to-back road games at Cincinnati and Denver to finish the season. If the Chiefs can finish the year with a 10-game win streak and the No. 1 seed, I think Mahomes has just as good a MVP case as Rodgers or Brady when all is said and done.
Matt Stafford is 10/1 and he’s having a great season, but I have a hard time seeing Stafford winning MVP when he’s not even the best player on his own offense right now. Kupp is leading the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, and might break Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yards record. Kupp also has an outside shot at breaking the 2,000 receiving yard barrier. Cooper Kupp was as high as 200/1 for MVP entering the Seahawks game, and is now 40/1 at Draftkings with similar numbers available at other legal books.
The 40/1 odds are probably still too high for Kupp. While I don’t think Kupp is necessarily going to win, he does have a path to the MVP and his season hasn’t been any less impressive than Taylor’s, who is currently trading under 10/1. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Kupp MVP odds continue to shorten if the Rams beat the Vikings this weekend.
Coach of the Year
Odds from DraftKings
Belichick + 100
LaFleur + 300
McVay + 1200
Kingsbury + 1600
Reich + 1600
Taylor + 1800
Staley + 2000
Vrabel + 2000
McCarthy + 2500
Payton + 4000
Flores + 4000
Tomlin + 5000
Reid + 5000
Harbaugh + 5000
The market still thinks Belichick is an even money favorite after the Patriots were dominated by the Colts on Saturday night. I think that was the end of Belichick’s Coach of the Year chances and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Patriots lose to the Bills this week and Belichick’s odds take another step back.
Matt LaFleur is getting a lot of credit for Rodgers’ production and I have a hard time seeing him win Coach of the Year. If anyone on the Packers deserves Coach of the Year it should be Rodgers, as it's his team and LaFleur does what Rodgers tells him.
Sean McVay is live if the Rams win a division title and Kingsbury is drawing dead after a loss to the Lions. Brandon Staley is also drawing dead after a home loss to the Chiefs. Mike Vrabel has losses to the Jets and Texans on his resume which will hurt his chances unless the Titans get the #1 seed in the AFC.
Frank Reich has a chance to win in Indianapolis, but the lack of a division title is going to hurt him.
Zac Taylor is still alive, but the Bengals are going to need to win the AFC North for him to jump up past other contenders. Tomlin and Harbaugh would both need to win the AFC North to have a chance.
I don’t think Mike McCarthy is going to get serious consideration from voters, and Sean Payton might.
Brian Flores is down to 40/1 but his chances to win Coach of the Year is directly tied to the Dolphins beating the Saints on Monday. A loss to the Saints would eliminate Flores, but I think the Dolphins are the only team, and Flores is the only coach, who could win without a division title.
Andy Reid is still 50/1 on a seven-game win streak with three winnable games left for the Chiefs and a chance to finish the season on a 10-game win streak, I think 50/1 is too high still. The same arguments that apply to Belichick winning Coach of the Year also apply to Reid.
I think the criteria for winning Coach of the Year is going to include finishing the season 3-0 and winning a division title.