NFL MVP odds: Josh Allen, Kyler Murray favored in crowded field
We're only five weeks into the NFL season and we've already seen three players earn the distinction of MVP favorite in a star-studded field. This week, it's Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who torched the Chiefs' defense in prime time to surge to the top spot in the MVP oddsboard.
Allen (+450) needed just 15 completions to churn out 315 passing yards and three touchdowns; he added 59 yards and a score with his legs to lead his team to an AFC-best 4-1 record through five weeks. His 139.1 passer rating was tied for the second-best in his career. Buffalo's point differential (+108) is by far the best in the league, nearly doubling that of the Cardinals (+62).
Kyler Murray (+500) has been the catalyst for Arizona's undefeated start, though his record pace slowed in Sunday's 17-10 win over the 49ers. The dual-threat star was held to one yard rushing - the second-fewest of his career - and he finished with a season-low 239 passing yards with just one passing touchdown.
Those two are still the clear favorites in this field, but neither has the statistical case of an overwhelming favorite. Tom Brady (+800) leads the league in passing yards (1,767) and first downs (96); Patrick Mahomes (+1500) leads in passing touchdowns (16) and QBR (75); Justin Herbert (+600) and Lamar Jackson (+1200) have both engineered an NFL-best three fourth-quarter comebacks.
With that said, here are the current odds to win NFL MVP (100-1 or shorter) and a few players worth betting ahead of Week 6:
Matthew Stafford, QB, Rams (+900)
Entering the year, Stafford was our favorite bet to win MVP at 15-1 odds, and his price was slashed to 8-1 after just one week. Four weeks later, he ranks third in passing yards (1,587), touchdowns (13), and passer rating (113.2), second in QBR (74.8), and leads the NFL in adjusted net yards per attempt (9.41), a strong metric for measuring QB success.
And yet, thanks to the hysteria surrounding young QBs making splashy plays, his odds are actually worse than they were after his Rams debut. Expect that to change with matchups against the Giants, Lions, Texans, and Titans in the next four weeks - all of which rank among the league's worst in passing defense and yards allowed per attempt.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens (+1200)
It's hard to watch what Jackson did on Monday night and not feel like you were watching the eventual MVP. I could hardly believe his price wasn't shorter than eighth after the Ravens quarterback's record-setting performance. Jackson finished 37 of 43 for 442 yards and four touchdowns while adding another 62 yards on the ground.
Jackson is clearly a better passer than he was in his 2019 MVP campaign, when he threw for nearly 100 fewer yards per game with similar rushing totals. He's quietly fifth in passing yards (1,519) through five weeks and has led Baltimore to the same 4-1 record as the Bills in a tougher division. If Jackson maintains his current pace, it'll be hard to deny his MVP credentials.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs (+1500)
Mahomes had been the MVP favorite or a close runner-up until this week, when he was upstaged by Allen under the bright lights. Still, the Chiefs star deserves much better odds than this based on his production and potential.
First, the production: as mentioned at the top, he's still the NFL leader in passing touchdowns and QBR. Consider that each of the past three MVP winners have led the league in both categories, and it's easy to see the case for Mahomes even if his team falters. Also consider that his resume to this point includes two clunkers and three phenomenal performances. Do we expect to see the Sunday version of Mahomes for the next 12 weeks?
When Mahomes inevitably throws for four touchdowns in the coming weeks - which he's done in nearly a quarter of his 51 career starts - his price will once again resemble that of an MVP contender. Buy now before it's too late.