Predicting the Super Bowl’s most valuable player is a popular prop bet this time of the year. For teams like the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, who clash Sunday in Super Bowl XLVII, it’s a little bit harder to predict than some.
And trends tend to tell the story better than matchups. Nine of the last Super Bowl MVPs have been offensive players, with six being quarterbacks and three being wide receivers.
Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick are headlining this year’s game, though, not the Bradys or Mannings of the league.
That leaves a possibility that the trend can be broken this year, and it’s anyone’s game at this point.
Let’s take a look at a few dark horses who could leave New Orleans with a taste of immortality. Not only will they have a Super Bowl ring, their name will be listed in the record books next to the team’s name as the game’s best performer.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
Justin Tucker, K (75/1 odds via Bovada)
A kicker has never won the Super Bowl MVP, making Justin Tucker the longest of long shots to win the award. But Tucker has been clutch for the Ravens all season, kicking the team into the AFC Championship Game in the Ravens’ double-overtime win over the Denver Broncos.
He was clutch during the season, too, kicking a game winner against the New England Patriots. He only missed three attempts all season.
If the game comes down to field goals, and it could, Tucker could shine bright and do the unthinkable. He’s a huge long shot, sure, but anything can happen.
Jacoby Jones, WR (No odds listed)
Baltimore Ravens kick returner and receiver Jacoby Jones has come a long way since fumbling a punt in the playoffs while with the Houston Texans. Interestingly enough, the fumble led to a touchdown for the Baltimore Ravens, who went on to win the game and advance to the AFC Championship Game.
On offense, Jones’ role is marginalized by Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Ray Rice and Dennis Pitta. Those are the team’s primary options. But Jones is still a threat to break a big play thanks to his speed.
That was apparent on his 70-yard touchdown reception in the waning moments of regulation against the Denver Broncos. Without that miracle play, the Ravens would be at home watching instead of playing in the big game.
Jones’ true threat is in the kick-return game. He returned two kickoffs and one punt for TDs during the regular season. Jones also racked up 1,167 yards in kick returns and 341 more on punt returns.
LaMichael James, RB (40/1 odds via Bovada)
LaMichael James is getting some attention after scoring a touchdown in the 49ers’ NFC Championship Game win over the Atlanta Falcons. The 15-yard run demonstrated the explosiveness that the Niners saw when they picked him in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft.
James took a handoff on a read-option play after defenders were forced to wait for the QB to wait for Colin Kaepernick to make his read.
The speedy rookie running back wasn’t heavily involved in the 49ers offense during the regular season, and hasn’t seen those numbers increase in the postseason. Still, the explosiveness of the shifty 5'9" back leaves you to believe he could provide some fireworks any time he touches the football.
If Kaepernick gets going on the ground it could benefit James, who fits well in the fast-paced option offense that he specialized in at Oregon.