Before last season, Lamar Jackson was a 200-1 long shot to win The Associated Press NFL MVP award.
Three bettors at the Westgate sportsbook turned $50 into $10,000 when the Ravens quarterback earned MVP honors and a bettor at Circa Sports cashed a large ticket on Jackson at 125-1 odds.
“That was the result of basically one person having an opinion that turned out to be very sharp,” Circa sportsbook manager Chris Bennett said. “That’s part of booking futures in general. You’re going to have things open up at 50-1 or higher that win from time to time.”
Circa has posted 2020 NFL MVP odds on 87 players, ranging from 5-1 on favorite Patrick Mahomes to 500-1 on eight wide receivers and Eagles tight end Zach Ertz.
William Hill has posted NFL MVP odds on 77 players, ranging from +450 on Mahomes and 7-1 on Jackson to 300-1 on three tight ends (Ertz, George Kittle, Travis Kelce).
No wide receiver or tight end has been named NFL MVP in the 63-year history of the award, and two defensive players (Lawrence Taylor, 1986; Alan Page, 1971) have received the honor.
Quarterbacks have dominated, claiming 42 MVPs — including the past seven, 12 of 13 and 17 of 20 — while running backs have won the award 18 times.
Bettors back Murray
Bettors at William Hill are banking on quarterbacks to extend that trend and backing Arizona’s Kyler Murray to become the third consecutive second-year QB to win the award. Murray leads in tickets at William Hill, where he’s down to 20-1, and is third in money, behind Buffalo QB Josh Allen (50-1) and Dallas QB Dak Prescott (25-1).
Murray is the 30-1 ninth choice at Circa behind Mahomes, Jackson, Russell Wilson (12-1), Deshaun Watson and Prescott at 15-1, and Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers at 20-1.
“One guy that sticks out to me is Kyler Murray,” Bennett said. “There seems to be a lot of optimism around him given that the Cardinals are expected to be below .500.
“He’s a mobile quarterback and was the No. 1 overall pick. The expectations are that the Cardinals are improving and should be better than they were last year, and they’re really young. Murray might make the leap this year. If that’s the case, he’ll probably be in the MVP conversation.”
Titans running back Derrick Henry led the NFL in rushing last season and also leads in MVP tickets and money at Circa. Henry has been bet down to 100-1 after opening at 150-1.
“The Titans lost an important offensive lineman (Jack Conklin) in free agency,” Bennett said. “It’s hard to see a running back on an average team who doesn’t catch any passes winning MVP.”
Don’t sleep on Brady
Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito likes Brady to make a run at his fourth NFL MVP award in his first season in Tampa Bay.
“I think a legitimate sleeper — and it’s strange to say sleeper — is going to be Tom Brady,” Esposito said. “You’ve got to think (he’s) going in with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove.
“He’s someone with value because of the offense he plays in.”
Former Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston led the league last season in touchdown passes (33) and interceptions (30).
“Brady’s not going to turn the ball over like he did,” Esposito said. “He has a lot of talent with two 1,000-yard wideouts in (Mike) Evans and (Chris) Godwin and two really good tight ends in (Cameron) Brate and O.J. Howard.”
Esposito also said Prescott and Eagles QB Carson Wentz (30-1) are worth a look.
“If Wentz is healthy, and they can add (wideouts Henry) Ruggs, (CeeDee) Lamb or (Jerry) Jeudy,” he said. “There’s potential.”