There are 704 offensive and defensive starting players in the NFL, but only one of them rises above all to claim the NFL MVP award every season. After five grueling months of hard hits, pressure-packed moments, big wins and tough losses, one player stands alone as being honored for doing the most for his team.
More than other sports, winning the NFL MVP can be very dependent on great teammates and great coaching. Receivers have to make the tough catches to help their quarterback look good, running backs need their offensive lines to open up holes for them to run through, and the rare defensive MVPs need good schemes to set them up for the most success.
But the NFL MVP is the one who does the most with his opportunities, typically leading their teams into the playoffs and a chance at a Super Bowl victory.
The Main Factors in Winning the NFL MVP
Despite what we’ve said about the MVP coming out of a pool of 704 NFL starters, you can pretty much boil that number down to 32. That’s the number of starting quarterbacks in the NFL.
It has become almost a foregone conclusion that a QB will win the MVP award. Only once in the past 16 years has a non-QB won it – running back Adrian Peterson in 2012. In the 57 MVPs of the Super Bowl era (1966-now), 41 have gone to quarterbacks and 16 to non-quarterbacks — even to a placekicker.
The NFL is always called a “passing league,” meaning that teams live and die with how well they can pass the ball and defend against the pass. Certainly, the running game plays a big part in a team’s success, but to go all the way and get the Super Bowl ring, you’re probably going to need great passing here and there along the way.
So, quarterbacks probably get too much credit – and too much blame – for their teams’ successes and failures, and that’s also why the Associated Press writers who do the MVP voting pretty much always pick a QB.
How is NFL MVP Voting Done?
Similar to other sports, the NFL MVP award is determined by votes from football writers and broadcasters. The process is conducted by the Associated Press. There are other groups and media organizations that pick the NFL MVP, but the AP’s voting is the one that is recognized by the NFL.
The point system is as follows, from being ranked 1st to 5th: 10-5-3-2-1. Each voter ranks five players as most deserving, and points are given to that player according to where the voter has ranked them. For example, here is the voting breakdown for Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, who won the award in 2022:
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City, 48-2-0-0-0 = 490 points
You can see that 48 voters had Mahomes ranked first, which gave him 480 points (48 x 10) and two voters ranked him second, which added 10 more points (2 x 5).
Prior to the 2022 season, voters only picked one player. The AP changed that system for the 2022 season voting.
Current NFL MVP Favorites and Odds
According to the latest Tipico odds, here are the top favorites to win the NFL MVP award as of this writing:
Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs QB) +275
The two-time Super Bowl winner is widely considered the best player in the NFL and potentially the greatest QB to ever have played the game. It’s still mind-boggling that he went 10th in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia Eagles QB) +290
The Philly star has completed nearly 69 percent of his passes and has also run for more than 300 yards. He has the Eagles on a possible trajectory to again being the No. 1 seed in the NFC and a second straight trip to the Super Bowl.
Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens QB) +390
You never know if Lamar is going to fire a dime or run for a first down. He’s run for nearly 500 yards and completed over 70 percent of his passes for one of the best teams in the NFL.
Tua Tagovailoa (Miami Dolphins QB) +550
Tua is ranked third in the NFL with 289 yards per game passing and has thrown 19 TD passes. The major knock on him and his team is their inability thus far in beating a team with a winning record.
Christian McCaffrey (San Francisco 49ers RB) +2000
It would be a rarity if a running back won the NFL MVP award this season, but if anyone can do it, CMC can. The engine of the 49ers attack tied the legendary Lenny Moore by scoring a touchdown in 17 straight games, a streak that came to an end in the Niners’ 34-3 victory over the Jaguars in which McCaffrey was kept out of the end zone.
CMC has 747 yards rushing and 339 yards receiving and has scored 13 touchdowns this season.
C.J. Stroud (Houston Texans QB) +2000
This rookie from Ohio State is having an incredible season. He ranks second in yards (2,626) and sixth in rating (101.0) and has 17 touchdown passes to only two INTs. More importantly, Houston is eyeing its first playoff berth in three years.
Brock Purdy (San Francisco 49ers QB) +2500
‘Mr. Irrelevant 2022’ is the top-rated signal-caller in the league, with 15 TD passes to 5 INTs. He also leads in yards per attempt at 9.3 and generals one of the top Super Bowl contenders in the league.
Joe Burrow (Cincinnati Bengals QB) +4000
The former national champion from LSU and Super Bowl runner-up two years ago has thrown 14 TD passes and has topped 300 yards in three of his past seven games. But a recent injury saw his odds plummet.
If you want a couple of long shots, Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill (+4500) and Eagles receiver A.J. Brown (+10000) are ranked 1-2 in yards and have a chance to break Calvin Johnson’s NFL record of 1,964 yards receiving in a season. (Of course, he only had 16 games to accomplish his feat).
History of the NFL MVP
From 1938 through 1946, the MVP honor was officially known as the Joe F. Carr Trophy and went to legendary players such as Don Huston, Bob Waterfield and Sid Luckman. From ’47-’53, United Press International (UPI) voted on the award, and the Sporting News MVP and Jim Thorpe Trophy also joined the mix in subsequent years.
The AP did its first voting in 1957, awarding the MVP to Browns running back Jim Brown. These are the players with multiple MVP awards:
- Peyton Manning – 5
- Aaron Rodgers – 4
- Tom Brady – 3
- Jim Brown – 3
- Brett Favre – 3
- Johnny Unitas – 3
- Patrick Mahomes – 2
- Joe Montana – 2
- Kurt Warner – 2
- Steve Young – 2
Bet on NFL MVP Futures with Tipico!
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