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NFL MVP 2021: Award Candidates, Odds and Predictions

Martin FennFeatured Columnist IFebruary 6, 2021

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers passes during the first half of the NFC championship NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

The 2021 NFL Honors will be held Saturday night in Tampa, Florida, with a pre-produced show set to air on CBS ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The league's most prestigious individual awards will be handed out, from Defensive Player of the Year to Walter Payton Man of the Year. The evening will also mark the official announcement of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021.

Of course, the Most Valuable Player Award is also on the line.

There has not been a repeat NFL MVP since Peyton Manning in 2008-09, and—barring unforeseen circumstances—there will not be one for the 2020 season, as Lamar Jackson is unlikely to attract much of the vote. However, two of the top candidates have the opportunity to pad their career resumes.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has already won a pair of MVPs. Chiefs signal-caller Patrick Mahomes has more important things in mind, but he could become a two-time MVP. Then there's Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry, a back-to-back rushing champion looking to become the first running back to win MVP since Adrian Peterson in 2012.

Let's take a look at the odds for some of the top candidates heading into the 10th Annual NFL Honors

   

NFL MVP Odds   

Aaron Rodgers -400 (bet $400 to win $100)

Patrick Mahomes +350 (bet $100 to win $350)

Josh Allen +1300

Davante Adams +10000

Derrick Henry +10000

Russell Wilson +25000

Tom Brady +25000   

(Odds obtained via Vegas Insider)

   

The Skinny   

When it boils down to it, this is essentially a two-horse race.

Henry deserves plenty of praise after becoming just the eighth player in NFL history to rush for at least 2,000 yards in a single season. His 2,027 yards ranks fifth all-time, and he was quite simply the engine driving the Tennessee Titans' success throughout 2020. 

But the reality is, the MVP Award so often goes to quarterbacks, and there were some spectacular quarterback performances this season.

So, what about Buffalo Bills star Josh Allen? The 24-year-old made an enormous year-over-year leap, raising his completion rate by just over 10 percentage points while throwing for 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns against 10 interceptions.

Allen also rushed for 421 yards and eight scores, showcasing his mobility and escapability outside the pocket. Perhaps most notably, his improvement was vital in Buffalo amassing a 13-3 record.

Yet as good as Allen was, Rodgers and Mahomes were just better.

Mahomes went 14-1 in his 15 starts, throwing for 4,740 yards and 38 touchdowns against just six interceptions. He led the NFL with 316.0 passing yards per game and tied with Rodgers for the league lead in interception percentage.

Mahomes absolutely dominates when facing extra pressure, and his ability to make off-timing throws only makes the Chiefs' explosive offense that much more dangerous. That said, this one goes to the "old heads," so to speak.

Rodgers had a remarkable season, leading the NFL in completion percentage (70.7), touchdown passes (48), adjusted yards gained per pass attempt (9.6) and total QBR (84.3) in spite of a relative lack of talent and depth at the wide receiver position. 

The 37-year-old ranked second in on-target throws per pass attempt and ranked towards the bottom of the NFL in bad throw percentage. He dissected opposing defenses all season long and should be awarded his third MVP trophy.    

Prediction: Rodgers wins MVP

    

All stats obtained via Pro Football Reference, unless otherwise noted.