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Patrick Mahomes is the reigning NFL MVP, could he win it for the third time in six seasons?

Since 1987 only running backs or quarterbacks have been named the NFL’s regular season MVP. However, recent evolution of NFL rules to provide more entertainment (because nobody wants to watch backup quarterbacks slug it out on a Sunday night) has inadvertently lead to an evolution of the award.  

It’s a Quarterback Driven League

77% of MVP awards since 1987 have been taken home by quarterbacks. So, quarterbacks have always been important, but recently they’ve become even more important. The MVP is now the MVQB award with 15 of the last 16 awards won by signal callers. The only non-quarterback to win in that period was Adrian Peterson back in 2012. That season Peterson ran 348 times for 2,097 yards (the second most in history), averaging 131.1 yards per carry and 6 yards per touch! 

The rule changes have obviously worked as the NFL striving to generate a bidding war between broadcasters. In 2021 the NFL struck rights’ deal worth more than double their previous value. Broadcast rights currently generate more than $10 billion a year! These new rules also make it easier for bookmakers to evaluate who will win the MVP award.  

The extra protection afforded to quarterbacks make them the NFL’s sacred cow. But ironically the rules have turned the MVP award into a 32-horse race. Considering how most rookie quarterbacks need time to adapt to the professional game (even Peyton Manning threw more interceptions than touchdowns his rookie season) it’s easy to eliminate them from the field. 

The Contenders

Patrick Mahomes is undeniably the best player in the NFL today and the 2023 MVP odds reflect that. He’s currently favourite with most bookmakers, although with one there’s nothing to separate him, Josh Allen and Joe Burrow.  

The more interesting quarterback options include Jalen Hurts who is 12-1 and if the Eagles are going to be successful (and it’s difficult to see them not winning the NFC East again) he’ll be hugely important. Justin Herbert has a much trickier task in the AFC West and his odds are shorter than Hurts’ are.  


Matt Stafford is 50-1 and an intriguing prospect too, partly because he comes off a long period rest after his 2022 injury. But also, because if the Rams are to be successful this season, he will be the one putting up the big numbers. The NFC West promises to have a fascinating start as only the Rams and Seahawks will have their starting quarterback available for about the first three games.  

Imagine a Quarterback Didn’t Win

The first non-quarterbacks on the list are Nick Chubb, Jonathan Taylor and Justin Jefferson who are 100-1. But their team’s reliance on them is very much a double-edged sword. While they should see plenty of touches as they hoist their team’s offences onto their shoulders throughout the regular season, defenses will highlight them for special treatment and prioritise stopping them. Their increased involvement, combined with the extra stresses and strains of last season’s travails will likely increase their chances of season ending injuries.  

The most interesting non-quarterbacks on the list are Christian McCaffrey who is 125-1, if the 49ers have a successful season, it will be more of a collaborative effort but McCaffrey is a triple threat so he could play a big part in their offence. CMC hasn’t started every game in a season since 2019 though and the 49ers have no luck with injuries. But if he could stay healthy for all 17 games he would record some impressive numbers. Tyreek Hill is 150-1 and if he and Tua are both healthy all season they could break a lot of records together in Miami. 

The Case For The Defense

The last defensive player to win the regular season MVP award was Lawrence Taylor 37 years ago! So, it seems unlikely that a defensive player will win the award this season. Micah Parsons has the shortest odds with one bookmaker, at 100-1. But others think that’s a bit too short and have TJ Watt as the most likely defender to win the award at 150-1! 

 Nick Bosa at 200-1 is a fascinating prospect. He had a stellar season in 2022 and if anyone could break a couple of defensive records in one season, he’s more than likely to. Jarvon Hargrave has arrived in Santa Clara and with a new defensive coordinator in San Francisco nobody really knows how they’ll approach the season. Bosa was unstoppable next to Aric Armstead in 2022, but will he be the centerpiece this season too? 

In a similar way to Matt Stafford in Los Angeles his defensive counterpart Aaron Donald is a very tempting 150-1. He is coming off an injury effected 2022 too. So he should be coming into the season with more energy than some. The Rams aren’t exactly a dynastic defense like the 49ers. But what is an undeniable fact is Donald is one of the most talented football players of his generation. If anyone can lead a patchwork defense to the playoffs, it’s him.  

Fantasy Land

Anyone who likes a long shot and believes the Panthers made a wise decision trading away four draft picks and their best receiver for a draft pick for is in luck. They can bet on Bryce Young winning MVP at 200-1. 

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