Plenty of NFL MVPs have come out of nowhere, relatively speaking. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson were really young when they took the league by storm and won MVP.
It's time to bet Trey Lance to win MVP this season before the odds shift.
The San Francisco 49ers said on Tuesday that they're moving on with Lance as their starter, which shouldn't surprise anyone who has been paying attention this offseason. Jimmy Garoppolo is on the 49ers' roster, but only because they haven't been able to trade him. There has never been any indication this offseason that Garoppolo would have the opportunity to start over Lance.
But still, it gives those who believe in Lance some extra security. And Lance is set up pretty well to have a very good season.
There's a pattern for NFL MVP betting
Let's reset the NFL MVP betting market. It's worth a reminder if you're thinking of straying from a very predictable voting pattern.
NFL MVP has been a quarterback award for a while. Dating back to Emmitt Smith winning in 1993, there have been 30 MVP winners (with two co-MVPs). Quarterbacks account for 24 of those awards, and the others are all running backs who either rushed for 2,000 yards or set an NFL single-season touchdown record. Perhaps this is the year a non-quarterback wins, but don't waste your money chasing that dream.
The MVP will come from a playoff team. Only twice has NFL MVP come from a non-playoff team, and the last time was 1973.
So we're looking for a QB from a playoff team. That cuts the list way down. It's not easy to pick every playoff team, but the 49ers are -225, a pretty heavy favorite, to make the playoffs at BetMGM. They were in the NFC championship game a year ago. There's no guarantee, but the NFC isn't too tough. The 49ers should be a playoff team and the odds reflect that.
That doesn't mean Lance is winning an MVP. But his odds are really good.
Trey Lance's chances for MVP
Lance started the offseason at 66-to-1 to win MVP. He's 40-to-1 at BetMGM now. That number might move again as the season gets closer.
Lance wasn't bad last season. He threw just 71 passes but had a 97.3 passer rating. He has the ability to put up some good rushing numbers too. He has a very good offense around him and a fantastic offensive coach in Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan called the offense when Matt Ryan won MVP for the Atlanta Falcons in 2016. And the same talent that made Lance the third pick of the draft is still there.
And it's not like we haven't seen a story like this unfold before. Heading into the 2018 season, Mahomes had 35 career passes. He had a monster season and won MVP. Before the 2019 season, Jackson had eight career starts. He won MVP unanimously. Neither was on the MVP radar before the season. But they both had big second seasons and voters couldn't ignore them.
Is a Mahomes/Jackson-level second season likely for Lance? No. If that was a likely outcome, he wouldn't be 40-to-1 to win MVP. But there are plenty of reasons to believe he can find himself in contention.
There's nothing wrong with betting Josh Allen or Tom Brady to win MVP. They're favorites for a reason. But you can tell yourself a reasonable story in which Lance has an enormous breakout and wins it. That's all you can ask for a long shot.