2017-18 NFL MVP: Predicting Odds for Award's Top Candidates

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2018

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks to pass during the second half against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The NFL's MVP award is one of the easier things to predict in sports. 

Regardless, there is plenty of merit in discussing the worthy candidates and the impressive feats they accomplished. Even so, most know the award will go to a quarterback, with only four non-quarterbacks winning the award since 2000. 

A year ago, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was the easy choice. It seems like the same story with the regular season in the books, as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was leagues above most at the position overall, though a certain running back quietly has an argument worth hearing. 

Let's take a stab at predicting some odds for the award as we head toward the announcement. 

           

Predicting MVP Odds

Tom Brady (NE): 2-7

Todd Gurley (LAR): 8-1

Drew Brees (NO): 10-1

Russell Wilson (SEA): 25-1

Carson Wentz (PHI): 33-1

      

Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz

Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

At one point, all three of these guys looked like deserving candidates. 

By way of leading the New Orleans Saints to 11 wins and the playoffs, Drew Brees gets a nod as a candidate. The catch here is his lacking numbers—by his standards, at least. 

Brees is on a down year statistically at 4,334 yards and 23 touchdowns against eight interceptions, in large part because he has an elite one-two punch at running back helping the offense. The Saints wouldn't be what they are without Brees, but the numbers compared to a 5,000-yard, 37-touchdown effort in 2016 have him lower on the list than some might expect. 

One can't help but include Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in the conversation. Wilson tossed 34 touchdowns, tying a career high, despite playing behind one of the league's worst offensive lines. Still, even leading the league in touchdown passes doesn't counteract a 9-7 finish for his Seahawks, including an implosion when it mattered most down the stretch as the team lost three of four to close the year. 

Then there's Carson Wentz.

The Philadelphia Eagles looked like the best team in football in large part because Wentz was a surefire lock for the award. Before going down with a season-ending injury, he had thrown for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns against seven interceptions while the team only lost two games. 

Some of Wentz's top plays are feats most in the NFL can't recreate:

Unfortunately for Wentz, his going down likely means no MVP award this year. It's a debate worth having as to whether he should get it anyway, though it'd be remiss not to mention the Eagles won two games without him.  

         

Todd Gurley

Running backs are really the only other position that can hoist the individual hardware on the rare occasion, so it's time to talk about Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley. 

Gurley had a down year in 2016, yet exploded this season over 15 games with 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns on a 4.7 yards-per-carry average. Don't forget another 64 catches on 87 targets for 788 yards and six more scores. 

The Rams had a new culture, a borderline stunning turnaround from quarterback Jared Goff and an elite defense, yet even the latter won't deny Gurley is the biggest reason for the team's success. 

"He's the MVP, that's for sure," defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said, according to Tyler Dragon of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "When you go from 4-12 to where we are now and he's been a dramatic part of itobviously the offense has done great, but it's built around what he's done, he's a fantastic player."

Keep in mind Gurley rested during the final game of the season for his 11-win team. Even in the 26-13 playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons, he ripped off 101 yards on 14 carries, good for a 7.2 yards-per-carry average. 

Overall? Gurley helped make Goff more of a threat and the overall offensive potency put the defense in a better position to succeed. He's second in line for the MVP, though the first guy has a bit more going for him. 

           

Tom Brady

Who else? 

Even at 40 years old, Brady just carried the Patriots to a 13-win campaign with 4,577 yards and 32 touchdowns against eight interceptions while completing 66.3 percent of his passes. 

Context helps—Brady did all this behind a line that coughed up 35 sacks and a defense that looked horrific to start the season on the way to ranking 30th against the pass by the end of the year. 

Brady's numbers are even more impressive when compared to the rest of the league:

Like it or not, Brady's age plays a role in the MVP conversation just as it did for a guy named Peyton Manning.

Sometimes the obvious and easy choice is the right one. With Brady, another incredible season in all respects while fending off Father Time—to the point his team was willing to trade away a potential long-term successor in Jimmy Garoppolo—has him looking like a lock to win the award. 

           

Stats courtesy of NFL.com.

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