Patrick Mahomes is like Shohei Ohtani or Nikola Jokic. For as long as those players are in their primes, they will probably have a good MVP case every season.
But, voter fatigue is a thing. Mahomes, last season’s NFL MVP, hasn’t done anything to lose his grip on the favorite spot for this season’s MVP.
And yet, this week there was a change at the top of the MVP odds at BetMGM. Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow became the favorite.
That’s a significant change with training camps getting underway.
Joe Burrow is the new MVP favorite
We’re already to the point in which Mahomes’ greatness is being taken for granted a bit. Last season Mahomes lost Tyreek Hill, led the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns, helped the Chiefs to get the No. 1 seed in the AFC and eventually win a Super Bowl, and he still probably needed a Jalen Hurts injury to win MVP. Hurts wasn’t the better player — nothing against Hurts, but nobody who takes the NFL seriously would suggest the Philadelphia Eagles would be worse off with Mahomes at quarterback — but it’s natural for voters to want to spread MVP awards around. That’s a reason Aaron Judge and Joel Embiid have trophies.
Even though Mahomes is still pretty much unquestioned as the best player in the NFL (even Burrow said this offseason, “I don’t think there’s any argument right now. It’s Pat. Until somebody has a better year than he’s had, he’s the one to knock off”), it’s not easy to bet him to win MVP. He could be the best player in the league, like last season, and voters might find reasons to vote for someone else. He has two already.
Given that reality, Burrow is a fine candidate to be favored to win MVP. He’s a fantastic player on a team that should be a Super Bowl contender. He has already established himself as a star, and it seems inevitable he’ll win an MVP to go with his Heisman Trophy from his college days.
Bettors believe it can happen this season.
Burrow had a very good season
Burrow is coming off a tremendous season. He had 4,475 yards and 35 touchdowns. That wasn’t as good as Mahomes’ 5,250 yards and 41 TDs, but it was very good. Burrow led a deep playoff run, taking the Bengals to the AFC championship game. That wasn’t as good as Mahomes, who led a win over the Bengals in the AFC title game and won Super Bowl MVP, but it was very good.
It isn’t hard to imagine Burrow improving this season and putting up better numbers than Mahomes, leading the Bengals to a better record than the Chiefs or a deeper playoff run than Kansas City (that latter doesn’t count in MVP voting).
There will also be other strong contenders. We know, from history, that MVP is very likely to be a quarterback off a playoff team. Hurts will likely be in the mix again. Someone like Lamar Jackson or Trevor Lawrence could make a run.
But it wouldn’t be a big surprise if it comes down to Mahomes or Burrow. And if it’s between those two, voters might want to give the award to someone new.