Before last season, when Aaron Rodgers was obviously on the NFL MVP radar after winning it in 2020, the award has had some surprise winners.
Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson weren't close to preseason favorites to win MVP in 2018 and 2019 as second-year players. Rodgers was down the list to start the 2020 season, and he won the third MVP of his career.
Our Yahoo Sportsbook team took a look at the BetMGM odds and came up with our best picks for the award (this is the first in a series of roundtables that will look at all the major NFL awards before the start of the regular season):
MARK DRUMHELLER: Longshots are always tempting but I like Justin Herbert at +850. Herbert threw for 5,014 yards last season and he hasn’t even scratched the surface of his potential. Awards are driven by stats and highlights — Herbert delivers both. He leads the NFL in TD passes of more than 55 air yards since he entered the league in 2020. This season he has a defense behind him to make LA one of the elite teams in a stacked AFC. Wins, monster stats, and highlights will wow the voters in only his third year.
PETER TRUSZKOWSKI: Way back in April, He’s down to +850, so a lot of the value is gone, but he’s still my pick to win the award. Herbert had a better first two seasons in the NFL than Patrick Mahomes, statistically. A lack of team success has kept Herbert from getting all of the love he deserves. In a league stocked with young, talented quarterbacks, he might be the best. I expect a big year from the Chargers and Herbert will be a big part of that.
GREG BRAINOS: My biggest position is on Lamar Jackson (+2000) but I also love the value on Kirk Cousins at +5000. The Vikings offense may go nuclear under former Rams OC Kevin O’Connell, whose new arsenal includes an elite pass-catching back in Dalvin Cook, a mega-elite alpha receiver in Justin Jefferson, an impossible red zone cover in Adam Thielen, and two popular breakout candidates in wideout K.J. Osborn and tight end Irv Smith. Cousins could throw for 45 touchdowns this season. ?!
SCOTT PIANOWSKI: I don’t see a ton of value on this board, and a lot of it is just unplayable (don’t let your friends bet on Mac Jones at 50-1, and every receiver price is laughable given that no receiver has ever won). But if a non-Kansas City team wins the AFC West, that’s going to be a story with momentum. So color me interested on Justin Herbert at +850 or Russell Wilson (who famously has never received an MVP vote, let alone trophy) at +1400. Herbert could work off the shiny-new-toy narrative, while Wilson would be getting back-class votes and the new kid in town story. Both quarterbacks are surrounded by plenty of skill talent. (I resisted the urge to dial up Kirk Cousins at +5000, but I surely will be punching other Minnesota tickets this fall.)
FRANK SCHWAB: Earlier this offseason I was grabbing Trey Lance at +5000. That’s down to +3000, so I’ll go with Lamar Jackson at +2000 as my best MVP bet. Jackson is 25 years old and, theoretically, still improving. He’ll be leading a Ravens team I’m very high on going into the season. He is going to put up big numbers and has already won an MVP. It’s weird that nine players have better MVP odds.