2018-19 NFL MVP: Updated Predictions and Odds Entering Divisional Round

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2019

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) looks to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

The two primary NFL Most Valuable Player candidates return to the gridiron in the divisional round after earning first-round byes. 

This weekend, Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes have opportunities to extend their terrific seasons at home against the sixth-seeded teams in their respective conferences. 

Brees faces the Philadelphia Eagles for the second time this season at the Superdome on Sunday, while Mahomes and the Chiefs play host to the Indianapolis Colts Saturday afternoon. 

While there are a few other players left in the postseason worthy of being in the MVP discussion, the two quarterbacks distanced themselves from the other contenders with their play during the regular season. 

                              

MVP Predictions and Odds

Odds from OddsShark as of December 30.

1. Patrick Mahomes (-250; Bet $250 to win $100) 

It's hard to argue against Mahomes as the favorite to win MVP in only his second NFL season. 

The Texas Tech product, who took over for Alex Smith in the Chiefs offense during the offseason, totaled 5,097 passing yards and 50 touchdowns in the regular season. 

Although the Chiefs didn't look like the best team in the NFL down the stretch, Mahomes still produced solid offensive numbers. 

In the December defeats to the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks, he threw for 516 yards and five touchdowns while turning the ball over once on a fumble. 

Ed Zurga/Associated Press

Mahomes capped the regular season by helping the Chiefs secure home-field advantage in the AFC with his 14th multiple-touchdown performance. 

The only games in which the 23-year-old failed to throw for a score came in Weeks 4 and 5 against Denver and Jacksonville, and he still threw for 300 yards in both contests. 

Outside of the stats, Mahomes passed the eye test with his playmaking ability on the field, including the different angles at which he completed throws. 

His remarkable first season as a starting quarterback in the NFL landed him a spot on the Associated Press All-Pro Team

What's significant about the All-Pro voting is Mahomes earned 45 of the 50 first-team quarterback votes, which could foreshadow a large margin on the MVP ballot.

                                    

2. Drew Brees (+170; Bet $100 to win $170)

Brees is the only true challenger to Mahomes in the MVP discussion, and that's saying something given the years players such as Philip Rivers, Aaron Donald and others put together. 

Unfortunately for the future Hall of Fame quarterback, he'll likely come up short of achieving the honor. 

Brees could have tipped the voting in his favor while the Chiefs struggled to lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but he threw three touchdowns and three interceptions in his last four games. 

Bill Feig/Associated Press

The uncharacteristic stretch from the 39-year-old meant he ended the regular season with 3,992 passing yards and 32 touchdowns. 

Had he elevated those totals closer to 4,500 yards and 40 touchdowns while leading the Saints to the No. 1 seed in the NFC, Brees could have had a better chance of knocking off Mahomes. 

By his incredibly high standards, the veteran's numbers were average, as his yardage total was the 13th-highest in his career and the touchdown count was tied for his ninth-best output. 

The one category in which Brees drastically improved is interceptions, as he was picked off on five occasions in 16 regular-season games. 

The interception total was his lowest in a full season as starter and just the third single-digit mark he's recorded in his career. 

Although Brees deserves to be in the conversation with Mahomes, he just doesn't have the eye-popping numbers to warrant many first-place votes, which is why the MVP voting could be as lopsided as the All-Pro ballot. 

                    

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.

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