Super Bowl 2014: Under-the-Radar Contenders for MVP Award

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IJanuary 21, 2014

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 19:  Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner #54 of the Seattle Seahawks runs out of the tunnel before taking on the San Francisco 49ers during the 2014 NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field on January 19, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

We know about Peyton Manning. We know about Russell Wilson. We know about Marshawn Lynch

There are some other decent contenders. But chances are, one of those three is going to leave MetLife Stadium as the Super Bowl MVP in a couple of weeks. 

However, if you just so happen to be the betting type, you probably aren't going to find very favorable odds on any of them. So, if you're looking to get the most bang for your buck, you're going to have to look elsewhere. 

The following players would be a good place to start. 


Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 11:  Wide receiver Percy Harvin #11 of the Seattle Seahawks on the field before taking on the New Orleans Saints on the field during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at CenturyLink Field on January 11, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (P
Harry How/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks spent first, third and seventh-round draft picks in the offseason to acquire Percy Harvin because of his game-changing ability. 

But, he's yet to make it through a full game. After missing the first 10 weeks of the regular season while rehabbing from hip surgery, he returned against his old team, the Minnesota Vikings, only to leave early when re-aggravating the injury.

Following talk that he may land on the season-ending IR list, he somewhat surprisingly came back to play against the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs, only to suffer a concussion, leave early and miss the NFC championship against the San Francisco 49ers. 

Once again, though, it looks like he's on his way back, as head coach Pete Carroll is optimistic Harvin will return to practice on Wednesday, via ESPN's Terry Blount:

We practice on Wednesday and there's a very good chance he will practice, based on how he was over the weekend...He was in pretty good shape on the weekend. He still has to go through a couple of clearances, but we're kind of counting on him to be ready.

Despite playing in less than a total of one combined game, Harvin has made evident his dynamic ability. Against the Vikes, his only two touches were a highlight-reel third-down catch and a 58-yard kick return. Against the Saints, he had three catches for 21 yards, another rush for nine and was heavily involved in the offense before halftime. 

Perhaps it's foolish to bet on Harvin until he makes it through an entire game, but if he plays for four quarters, he's going to get a lot of touches and make a lot of big plays. 


Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19:   Wes Welker #83 of the Denver Broncos looks on after a play against the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty I
Elsa/Getty Images

Predicting the member of this offense who will have the best statistical game during any given week is akin to predicting what number will come up on any given dice roll. 

It could be Welker. It could also be Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Eric Decker, Knowshown Moreno or Montee Ball.

But for this particular crapshoot, I'll put my money on Welker, who, at this point, is probably the "underdog" MVP candidate among Denver's pass-catchers. Not only did he finish the regular season with "only" 73 catches, 778 yards and 10 touchdowns (those last two were last among the talented receiving quartet), but he has just 10 catches and 76 yards in two postseason games. 

Moreover, ESPN Stats & Info pointed out his recent struggles in the posteason:

No matter. Welker is going to be an integral part of the offensive attack in New Jersey. 

The Seahawks have the cornerbacks in Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell to at least contain Demaryius Thomas and Decker on the outside. And you've seen how they are capable of shutting down tight ends with their performances against Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis.

They also have the pass rush to bother Manning more than the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots were able to, which means more shorter and quicker routes. 

It all adds up to heavy looks for the diminutive slot receiver. 

This one isn't for the faint of heart, but if the odds are attractive enough, Welker is worth putting a small bet on. 


Bobby Wagner, LB, Seattle Seahawks

If the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, there's a good chance that it's going to have a lot to do with their defense. 

Most will (rightfully) point to Sherman, Earl Thomas or Kam Chancellor as an individual likely to separate himself from that unit, but Bobby Wagner is an underrated option. He has been integral in Seattle's last two wins, and it wouldn't be surprising if that happened again. 

Wagner had nine tackles and a pass defended against the Saints and 15 more tackles against the 49ers. During both, he was making key plays all over the field. 

It may be tough for the second-year stud out of Utah State to get recognized by the voters since much of his impact isn't always highlight-worthy. But if it turns into a low-scoring game, and he adds an interception (he had two on the year) to what will undoubtedly be a slew of tackles, he'll have a legitimate claim to the award.