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With seven weeks left in the season, oddsmakers say the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award is Josh Jacobs' to lose.
The Oakland Raiders running back is -135 to claim the honor after he scored the game-winning touchdown to lift the Raiders to a win over the Chargers in Week 10. He's on pace for 1,441 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns over 16 games, which would both rank inside the top-20 all time for a rookie running back.
Oakland's success is a key factor: Jacobs is the only top-five rookie whose team boasts a winning record, and he's played a major role. The Raiders are 4-0 this year when Jacobs reaches the end zone and 1-4 when he doesn't.
Don't discount Kyler Murray, the opening ROY favorite, too early. The Cardinals quarterback is on pace for 4,084 passing yards, which would rank second all time behind Andrew Luck (4,374) for most by a rookie QB.
Add in Murray's rushing - 351 yards on the ground, nearly half of Jacobs' output - and his projected 4,646 total yards on offense would shatter Cam Newton's rookie record of 4,497.
Could any long shot make a surprising run here? Odell Beckham Jr. turned it on late to become the only receiver this decade to win the award. Marquise Brown, DK Metcalf, and Terry McLaurin all have that ability, but their modest first halves relative to their sub-40-1 odds leave much to be desired.
Here are the full odds for Offensive Rookie of the Year, with a brief breakdown of the top five candidates:
|Josh Jacobs||27-20 (-135)|
|Kyler Murray||17-10 (+170)|
We've already put forth the case for Jacobs, and it's a strong one - he's putting up gaudy numbers, his team is winning, and he's the focal point of the offense. Here's the issue: the last two winners - Saquon Barkley and Alvin Kamara - were probably more deserving.
Barkley's team couldn't match the wins, and Kamara couldn't quite match the production, but it's hard to say either put together a worse case than Jacobs will by season's end. Barkley managed near-record stats, while Kamara was a driving force behind the Saints' 11-5 season. If Jacobs is held to the standards of recent winners, voters may shy away from rewarding him and instead turn to a record-setting QB.
Murray's team hasn't reached the heights of Jacobs' or of the recent teams to produce award winners at the quarterback position. But a manageable three-game stretch post-bye against likely non-playoff teams could see Murray's squad threaten for a .500 record.
Murray will have the stats and the highlight-reel plays to make a case by year's end. At plus-money, he's still a worthwhile bet in a race that almost feels too close to call.
The only way Jones takes home this award is if voters ignore his horrific fumbling habits, which has led to the quarterback coughing up the football a league-leading 13 times through just nine games. If he keeps up this pace - he's fumbled at least twice in each of his last four games - he'll be flirting with the NFL record of 23.
Add in eight interceptions thus far, and it's hard to see him taking home the award for a hapless Giants squad. Upcoming games against the Bears and Packers won't help his cause.
Betting on Montgomery is essentially betting on Jacobs to collapse and the Bears' third-round pick to see a heavy workload. It could happen: Montgomery turned a season-high 27 carries in Week 8 into 135 yards and a score, and he's seen 17 touches in each of the last two games.
Given how bad Chicago's quarterback situation has been, Montgomery could be in for a massive workload to close the year. Still, he's averaged a meager 3.6 yards per carry and would need to show major improvement to threaten in this race.
Well, that was fun while it lasted. Minshew looked like a legitimate ROY candidate during his hot start to the year, and he still might have been one had the Jaguars not announced Nick Foles as the returning starter for Week 11.
Minshew struggled through his last four starts and may have continued the downward trend had Foles not returned. Maybe Minshew Mania could have one last run if Foles stumbles in his return, but that's only worth betting at 40-1 odds or longer.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.