NFL MVP odds: Matthew Stafford's record debut propels stock
That's how impressive Stafford was Sunday night when he finished 20-of-26 for 321 yards and three touchdowns in Los Angeles' 34-14 win over the Bears. He also finished with career highs in passer rating (156.1) and yards per attempt (12.3) - teasing Stafford's elite upside at the helm of Sean McVay's innovative offense.
Oddsmakers took notice. The former No. 1 pick is currently +800 to win MVP after entering the season at +1500 at theScore Bet and as high as +1800 at some shops. Only preseason favorite Patrick Mahomes (+550), who scored four times in the Chiefs' comeback victory Sunday, has shorter odds.
Stafford was our best bet to win MVP before the season, and there's still value on him at these odds. This is closer to what he should have been dealing at before the season, and he's since put on a dazzling display against a Chicago defense that finished as a top-10 unit in three consecutive seasons.
His passer rating - just shy of a perfect 158.3 - was the highest by any quarterback in his first game with a new team in NFL history. He also became the first QB to throw two 50-yard touchdowns in his team debut since 1968. All of that happened in Stafford's first 60 minutes within a new offense, when his execution admittedly wasn't as sharp as it will be later in the year.
It didn't matter. Stafford was stellar, and it likely won't be the most statistically gaudy game of his season. After all, he attempted just 26 passes, tied for the ninth-fewest of his 13-year career. He's earned the right to sling it even more as the season progresses; if he can pair Sunday's level of aerial brilliance with a 12-win season or better - something he's never done before - this will be his award to lose.
Here are the current MVP odds (shorter than 100-1) with a few players who could threaten Stafford's quest for hardware:
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs (+550)
Any MVP list starts with Mahomes, who showed again Sunday why he's a perennial contender - and favorite - for this award. The Chiefs' fifth-year star threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns and added a score on the ground to spark Kansas City's second-half rally against the resurgent Browns.
He was also sacked just twice and finished with zero turnovers, which are both crucial signs of progress after his disastrous showing in Super Bowl LV. If the Chiefs' O-line holds up, it'll be hard for anyone to challenge Mahomes' final statistical resume, which could be enough to anchor a second MVP campaign.
Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals (+1000)
Here are two competing facts about Murray's sterling season debut, in which he combined for 309 yards and five touchdowns in the Cardinals' blowout win over the Titans: If he keeps up this pace, he'll win MVP, and he almost certainly won't keep up this pace.
Tennessee ranked 29th in defensive DVOA and 30th in pass defense DVOA in 2020, which provides context for Murray's sensational Week 1 box score. Still, the fact that Arizona's dual-threat star can do that to any team indicates that he's arrived and is ready to torch defenses as a third-year breakout.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks (+1000)
"Let Russ Cook" has been a rallying cry for Seahawks fans and MVP bettors for years. On Sunday, Wilson only needed 23 passes to serve up 254 yards, four touchdowns, and a near-perfect 152.3 rating against a talented Colts defense in a spicy season debut.
We've seen this recipe before - namely in 2019, when his uber-efficient stat line earned him a symbolic runner-up finish to unanimous MVP Lamar Jackson. Maybe the Seahawks' staff loosens the reins on Wilson as the year progresses, but it's clear that Wilson can cook up magic even in a lesser role.
Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys (+1400)
Are we sure Prescott should be this far down the oddsboard? After setting an NFL record with 1,690 passing yards through his first four games of 2020, the Cowboys star continued that pace with 403 yards and three touchdowns Thursday against a Buccaneers defense that returned every starter from last year's top-five unit.
Even more impressively, Prescott did it while not looking fully healthy early in the game - but that's also the concern with betting him at this price. Can he stay on the field for a full 17 games? If he does, it's hard to find anyone with better odds for the production you'll get in return.