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Best bets to win this year’s Super Bowl MVP award

Super Bowl MVP Pick
7 min

If you’re betting on the Super Bowl and considering a wager on who will be named the game’s MVP, it might be good to focus on the players who meet the following prerequisites:

  • Play for the winning team: Only one player from a Super Bowl loser — Dallas Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley way back in Super Bowl V — has been named MVP.
  • Play on offense: The Super Bowl MVP has been a defensive player or players — Cowboys defensive linemen Harvey Martin and Randy White shared the award in Super Bowl XII — in only nine of 56 games. (Kick returner Desmond Howard was named MVP of Super Bowl XXXI for the Green Bay Packers.) Over the past 19 Super Bowls, defensive players have been named MVP only twice: Von Miller for the Broncos and Malcolm Smith for the Seahawks.
  • Be a quarterback, wide receiver or running back: One of those three positions has been named MVP in 46 of 56 Super Bowls — or 47 if you include Howard. Quarterbacks make up the bulk of the winners, at 31, followed by wide receivers (eight) and running backs or fullbacks (seven), though it has been 25 years since a ballcarrier — the Denver Broncos’ Terrell Davis in Super Bowl XXXII — won the award. Seventeen of the past 19 Super Bowl MVPs have been quarterbacks or wide receivers, including the past six.

The Super Bowl MVP is selected through a vote of 16 members of the Professional Football Writers of America covering the game (80 percent of the total). The remaining 20 percent is determined by fans voting online. Here’s a look at some of the players we think have a chance of winning the award.

Picks, props and best bets for Super Bowl 57

The odds for this bet have moved slightly during the week, but the two quarterbacks have been atop the betting market the entire time. All odds taken Sunday morning evening from DraftKings.

And for more ways to enjoy the Super Bowl, don’t miss our printable prop bets extravaganza, our look at the odds for who will score the first touchdown, our favorite bets going into the game, and our breakdown of the best and worst numbers for Super Bowl Squares.

This series will examine the impact of legalized gambling on sports, through news coverage, accountability journalism and advice for navigating this new landscape. Read more.

Patrick Mahomes (+120)

If you think the Chiefs are going to win, why bet on the +105 moneyline when you can get +120 odds on Mahomes to be the MVP? Think about how the game would have to unfold for Kansas City to win and Mahomes not to be named MVP: It almost certainly would have to be some sort of defensive struggle and — considering Kansas City’s somewhat shaky defense — that seems unlikely. Consider this: When the Chiefs beat the 49ers three years ago to win the Super Bowl, Kansas City running back Damien Williams had 133 total yards and scored two touchdowns, both in the fourth quarter in a close game. Yet Mahomes was named MVP even though he had one of his worst statistical games of the season, throwing multiple interceptions for the only time in 2019-20 and posting the second-worst passer rating of his postseason career.

Throw in the narrative about Mahomes playing on a bum ankle and cementing his legacy as one of the game’s all-time greats, and him not earning MVP honors would be extremely surprising should the Chiefs win.

A.J. Brown (+1600)

The Chiefs’ defense ranked 31st in the league against No. 1 wide receivers in terms of DVOA — defense-adjusted value over average, which measures how successful a team is against an opponent compared with the league average against that opponent. In other words, top wide receiver targets have tended to perform especially well against Kansas City.

Here are a few of the bigger games put up by opponents’ No. 1 wideouts against the Chiefs this season:

Stat line
Sept. 15
Mike Williams, Chargers
8 catches, 113 yards, 1 touchdown
Oct. 2
Mike Evans, Buccaneers
Oct. 10
Davante Adams, Raiders
Oct. 16
Stefon Diggs, Bills
Nov. 13
Christian Kirk, Jaguars
Dec. 4
Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals

The Eagles seem to get Brown more involved against teams with bad passing defenses: He received at least 10 targets in a game six times this season, and five of them came against teams that ranked 19th or worse in pass-defense DVOA. The Chiefs rank 20th in overall pass-defense DVOA, and if Brown can compile some stats, an MVP could be in the offing. Brown, who’s 6-foot-1 and 226 pounds, also might be a physical challenge for Chiefs cornerbacks Trent McDuffie (5-11, 193), L’Jarius Sneed (6-1, 192) and Jaylen Watson (6-2, 197).

Brown, though an appealing long shot, isn’t one of the front-runners. Here are the rest of the leading contenders.

Jalen Hurts, QB, Eagles (+135)

Hurts is virtually even with Mahomes as the betting favorite, but I worry that the Eagles will spread the ball around too much, hurting his chances. Then again, if the Eagles win, Hurts probably will get a whole lot of MVP votes no matter his performance.

Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs (+1200)

No tight end ever has been named Super Bowl MVP, but Kelce might have a good chance, particularly if the Chiefs remain thin at wide receiver because of injuries. He had a huge statistical game in the Chiefs’ previous Super Bowl appearance two years ago, getting 15 targets and catching 10 of them for 133 yards (a Super Bowl record for a tight end). He also has been targeted 25 times in Kansas City’s two playoff games this season, posting 21 catches and three touchdowns.

Miles Sanders, RB, Eagles (+2200)

So far in the playoffs, Sanders averaged 5.3 yards per carry over 17 attempts against the Giants (bad vs. the run) but got the ball only 11 times and averaged 3.8 yards per carry against the 49ers (good vs. the run), though he did score twice in the first half of the eventual blowout. Though the Chiefs’ defense is average against ground attacks (16th in expected points allowed), Sanders’s MVP candidacy is hindered by the presence of Hurts, Kenneth Gainwell and touchdown vulture Boston Scott, all of whom contribute to Philly’s ground attack. Finally, Sanders saw less playing time as the season wore on: He averaged 41.8 snaps per game over his first 13 games but averaged only 29.8 over his past six, including the playoffs.

DeVonta Smith, WR, Eagles (+3000)

Smith was targeted only three times in the NFC championship game against the 49ers, but the Eagles concentrated on milking the clock with their running game, so we probably can throw out that performance. Smith received at least eight targets in each of the 10 games that preceded the contest against San Francisco, posting four games of at least 100 receiving yards and six touchdowns over that span. Smith could become the fourth player to win a national championship in college, the Heisman Trophy and a Super Bowl, joining Charles Woodson, Marcus Allen and Tony Dorsett. (Allen also has a Super Bowl MVP on his résumé.)

Haason Reddick, LB, Eagles (+3000)

We’ll add a few defensive players as long-shot picks, because you never know. Reddick had a monster regular season, tying for second in the NFL with 16 sacks, and he has added 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble (which he also recovered) in two playoff games. The Chiefs ranked second in sacks allowed per dropback, at 3.82 percent, according to TruMedia. Then again, Mahomes’s mobility may be hampered by his high ankle sprain. A couple of sacks and a game-changing turnover — Reddick has forced 13 fumbles over the past three seasons, the most in the NFL — would garner a whole lot of MVP attention.

Chris Jones, DT, Chiefs (+4000)

The linchpin of Kansas City’s defense, Jones had 15.5 sacks in the regular season and brought down Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow twice in the AFC championship game. But Cincinnati’s offensive line was a patchwork affair because of injuries, and the Eagles have all-pro linemen in right tackle Lane Johnson and center Jason Kelce. Still, if the Chiefs’ defense rises to the occasion, chances are Jones will have had a big day, and Philadelphia quarterbacks have been sacked on 7.29 percent of their dropbacks in the regular season and playoffs, ranking 21st in the NFL.