Joe Montana, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, all three are legendary quarterbacks and former Super Bowl MVPs. Dexter Jackson, Larry Brown and Jim Plunkett, all three are former, umm...NFL players and Super Bowl MVPs.
While some would use the latter players as "evidence" that the Super Bowl MVP is completely random, it really isn't. Those three players represent glaring anomalies in NFL history. Twenty-three Super Bowl MVPs are currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and that's not including Brady, either Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Ray Lewis or Kurt Warner, all of which are likely to get a bust in Canton someday.
Super Bowl MVPs aren't just great players—they're usually ascendant. While that ultimately won't help determine whether the Baltimore Ravens or San Francisco 49ers will win Super Bowl XLVII, it may help bettors choose who they're backing for the game's MVP.
With the odds released by the folks at Bovada, let's take a look at a few of the favorites and judge their chances at joining elite company as the 2013 Super Bowl MVP.
Frank Gore (RB, San Francisco 49ers): 17/2
In order for Gore to win the big game's top honors, he's going to have to buck recent history. A running back has not won the Super Bowl MVP since Terrell Davis did in 1998. In that time, a safety, linebacker and three wide receivers have won the MVP—never once a ball-carrier.
Based on all of the information we have coming into Super Bowl XLVII, it seems highly unlikely that Gore will buck that trend. In order to win MVP honors, a player has to perform well not just throughout the game, but usually has to come up with a memorable moment.
Gore no longer has a penchant for the spectacular. He's a workman-like back, constantly effective but not a player who's prone to massive gains or especially ascendant performances. Though he averaged 4.7 yards per carry this season, Gore has a longest carry of just 37 yards.
With Baltimore's defense having stepped up against the run throughout the postseason, it seems highly unlikely that Gore suddenly turns into Adrian Peterson on Feb. 3.
And unfortunately for Gore, guys who simply move the chains simply don't win the MVP anymore. In close contests, the entire MVP paradigm can shift on one spectacular play. Of the 49ers' best players, Gore is the one least likely to dominate in that fashion.
With odds at a little less than 9/1, betting on Gore simply isn't a smart investment. History says you're far better off taking a flier on Michael Crabtree (16/1), Anquan Boldin (17/1) or Torrey Smith (20/1) than either running back—especially Gore.
Super Bowl MVP Chances: Not happening.
Ray Lewis (LB, Baltimore Ravens): 13/2
As you may have heard once or five kajillion times, Lewis will be retiring after the 2013 NFL playoffs. Semi-related—did you also know that Jim and John Harbaugh are brothers? I know, crazy, right?
As you may have picked up on by now, I'm not a fan of this whole narrative thing. It's mostly lazy shtick to give people something to write about during the two-week lull between conference championship games and the Super Bowl. It's overwrought and inane, but both storylines will be emphasized for the next two weeks to the point where most fans will go through a Lewis-like emotional breakdown.
Fortunately for those looking to make some money, Lewis' odds are entirely too high at the moment. His retirement story is being fetishized by the same people who vote for Super Bowl MVP.
At this juncture, anything resembling a low-scoring game with Baltimore winning will result in Lewis winning his second Super Bowl MVP—and it may wind up being deserved. Lewis has still struggled mightily in coverage during the playoffs, but has been the driving force behind the Ravens' return to run defense excellence.
He's recorded 44 tackles in three games during the postseason and stands to rack up a ton more against the 49ers' run-first attack. If Baltimore wins thanks to its defense, Super Bowl XLVII may be the rare place where silly narratives and logic meet.
Anyone who thinks the Ravens are going to win and enjoy a good narrative should throw down a wad of cash on Lewis.
Super Bowl MVP Chances: Guaranteed to happen if Ravens win a low-scoring game.
Joe Flacco (QB, Baltimore Ravens): 5/2
Colin Kaepernick (QB, San Francisco 49ers): 7/4
The quarterbacks get lumped together here for obvious reasons. Depending on who you think will win the game, the quarterback is always the safest bet—and very few would begrudge anyone for hedging and betting both signal-callers.
The past three and five of the past six Super Bowl MVPs have been quarterbacks. It's also been since 2003 that the big game's MVP has not gone to a player related to the passing game, whether that be a quarterback or wide receiver.
When talking heads use catchphrases like "this is a quarterback's league," things like Super Bowl MVP and regular-season MVP are what they're talking about. Kaepernick and Flacco are the favorites for the award, simply because...that's just what happens nowadays.
It also doesn't hurt that Flacco and Kaepernick have been otherworldly this postseason.
The 49ers signal-caller's ascent to stardom has been deservedly well-documented. Kaepernick set an NFL record in the divisional round with 181 rushing yards and followed it up with a wildly efficient performance under center against Atlanta. Displaying veteran levels of accuracy both underneath and down the field, Kaepernick completed 16-of-21 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown.
That gave him a QBR of 92.6 for the game—his second consecutive rating in the 90s. For reference, no other quarterback has one QBR in the 90s this postseason, let alone two.
On the other side of the field, Flacco has made himself one very rich man this winter. He's thrown for 853 yards and eight touchdowns while doing something Kaepernick has not—avoiding interceptions. Flacco is yet to throw the ball to the opposing team in 93 postseason attempts, an impressive feat considering the game conditions in Denver and New England the past couple of weeks.
The only problem with Flacco's candidacy is that he has Lewis to contend with. Kaepernick doesn't have the problem of another star looking to take his crown.
If you're interested in hedging, bet all three top candidates and hope Lewis wins. But if you can only afford to drop a shekel on one player in Super Bowl XLVII, there's a pretty good reason Kaepernick is the favorite.
Super Bowl MVP chances: The favorites.